Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer – Romans 12:12
If someone would make a survey about patience, I think we could all guess the answer. In my 28 years I haven’t met a single person stating that patience is one of their strong sides.
Standing in line to wait for coffee and wishing to be more patient is one thing. But when it comes to the big things in life – visions, dreams, hopes we have – patience becomes a different weight. Will we keep going when it takes longer than we’re willing to wait or will we give up and loose hope?
In my life I experience more and more that the good things often don’t come quickly to us. Many things we long for don’t come over night.
In my life I had many of those situations. On-stage translation for example … ever since I was a 15 year old girl at Teenstreet I wanted to become a translator. But it wasn’t until I was 28 that this dream came true. God took me on this journey, until I understood that it’s not about me or my abilities, but only about His kingdom and His timing! He has called me and it’s His decision when He wants to use me to work for His kingdom.
But what helps us to keep going, to stay tuned? I think Paul gives us some of the answers to this question.
Be joyful he writes … How can I stay joyful when I am waiting for my dream to come true, for my partner to come into my life, for my children to arrive, for a breakthrough in my marriage? This has always been a big issue in my life. I used to see my glas as half empty … sadness and discontentment were my regular companions. The concept of the greener gras on the other side was so familiar to me, I could have lectured about it in my sleep. But God took me on a journey where He taught me that thankfulness is the key to joy. Focusing on my side of the fence and on the positive aspects of my current life situation helps me to find the balance between hoping for good things to come and being joyful with the things I have right now. So instead of letting bitterness about my relationship status grow roots in my life I focus on the opportunities it gives me. Thankfulness is the key I think. So when I saw that a girl from church got engaged and his proposal was incredibly romantic my first response was “God, I love my life! Thank you for all you’re giving me!”. And instead of accussing God that I am single, I was able to full-heartedly wish them all the best.
There we have it. Paul makes it sound so easy. One thing that makes it so hard for me to wait is, that I don’t know for sure that the thing I am waiting for will one day be reality. What if I am waiting to be married and it will never happen? This fear, if entertained, can become stronger than any memory of God’s faithful in the past. Didn’t He promise me to supply me with a flat in Munich? And did He do it? Yes! Didn’t He promise me that He will use me to bring His message to people in their native language? Did He do it? He did indeed! Didn’t He promise me to give me a job and a future? Did He? Yes He did! But here I am doubting that He’ll keep this particular promise? That is just plain stupid!
So getting rid of this fear and replacing it with trust in God’s unfailling love and His good plan for my life is one key to patience. How do I do it? I write diary, I write down things that God has done for me and put them in a treasure chest. And I remind myself of His faithfulness on a regular basis.
There is this story of the persistent widow in the bible. She constantly comes back and cries out to the judge in sake of her case. Jesus encourages us to cry out to God daily. And I think another effect of this is, that our attitude is changed by that. It brings us to spending time with Jesus and it gives Him the chance to change our perspective.
Having said all this I want to close with saying that I don’t have it all together. Do I still wrestle with doubt, bitterness and despair? Yes! But the situations that sent me into darkness are becoming scarce. And I can’t thank God enough for leading me to this point.