Shopping for Patience

“And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” Matthew 21:22
I am an item-driven shopper. Whenever I enter a store, it is to buy a specific item. If I need milk, then I go into the grocery store to buy only milk. Because I am an item-driven shopper, it always surprises me, when I finally get ready to enter the check-out line, that my shopping cart contains items which weren’t on my mental shopping list of things to buy.
Webster’s Dictionary defines “patience” as “enduring pain, delay, without complaint….tolerant…..persevering.” We are encouraged to possess patience, as 1 Timothy 6:11 relates:

“And follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.”
Because of my desire to serve God, I pray for “patience” and then wait for God to immediately deliver “patience” to me. As I have just returned home from the grocery store, where items are neatly packaged and arranged in designated aisles, I picture a spiritual grocery store, where Christian attributes are also neatly packaged and arranged. I wait for God to send “patience” in a nice, neat package. For today, “patience” is the only thing on my shopping list.

During my wait for “patience“, I receive word that a friend has died. While I know that my friend was a Christian and is now experiencing the indescribable joy of Heaven, I still mourn for his passing from this world. I think about my friend’s accomplishments on this earth and the influence of his Christian life. I am encouraged that whatever this world may hold, that death is not final: Heaven waits me.

While I continue to wait for the package of “patience” to arrive, I log onto the internet and read my email messages. One message is from a friend, who is going through the pains of physical illness. I say a short prayer for my friend and then send an email encouraging them of God’s healing power (Matthew 10:1). I thank and praise God for His love and healing power.
My day continues without receiving “patience” and I look out my window. The clouds have darkened the sky, but I hear the small chirps of a solitary bird. I finally locate the small sparrow, perched on a tree limb. Just when I begin to feel that this small sparrow is all alone, two more small sparrows join the first sparrow and they begin to chirp a chorus together. I think about the omnipotence of God and how much He cares for me. As the small sparrows chirp, I recall Matthew 10:29-31:

“Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many
As I continue to listen to the sparrows’ chorus, my doorbell rings. I instantly think, “This must be the delivery of patience.” I open my door and it is indeed UPS. I quickly sign the receipt and bring the package into my house. I tear the package open, marveling that “patience” could be so big and heavy and that God would actually use UPS.

When I finally get the package open, I realize that it doesn’t contain “patience”, rather it contains Christmas gifts that my parents have mailed to me. As I go through the package, re-opening the packages that I had opened on Christmas, I fondly recall spending Christmas with my parents. I thank God for being raised in a Christian home and the love of my parents.
Night approaches and still “patience” has not been delivered. I again look out the window and the clouds have parted. As the sun sets on the horizon, the break in the clouds turns the sky into a mixture of bright reds and orange. I think about the return of Jesus Christ to this world (Luke 21:27). I pray to God that all will come to repentance, but I know that this will not be, for many will perish. I think about the people I know, who have not yet come to God, and sorrow rushes over me. I pray to God for these people, that they might be spared and I continue my wait for “patience.”
As the world becomes completely dark, I listen to the news. There are many stories where people have lost everything they owned, including their very homes, by ravaging flood waters and earthquakes. There are stories about wars being raged around the world and the loss of lives. I consider the many trials that Job endured and God’s faithfulness to Job. I remember how Job’s faithfulness was rewarded (Job 42:10).
As night vanishes and a new day dawns, I awaken with the thought, “Will “patience” arrive today?” My faith wavers and I wonder whether “patience“ will ever arrive. As quick as I have this thought, I am reminded of all the good things that God has done for me in my life.
I consider that faith isn’t based on the belief that God will supply everything, but faith is the belief that God’s perfect plan for our lives will be done. I think of Daniel. When he was cast into the den of lions, he had no reason to believe that he would be spared, but he had faith in the love and power of God (Daniel 6). Whether Daniel lived or died in the den, God’s perfect will would be done in Daniel‘s life. My faith is renewed, believing in the love and power of God.
Where is the package of “patience“ that I requested from God?
As I have shopped in the grocery store for a single item, only to discover that many other items have been added to my shopping cart, my quest for “patience” ends in many other things being added to my spiritual shopping cart. From reaffirming my faith that Heaven waits for me to the knowledge that tribulations serve to bolster my faith (Romans 5:1-5).
Patience is “enduring delay without complaint.” Patience is allowing God to add to our spiritual shopping carts, believing that His perfect will is being done, without complaining that He is adding to our spiritual shopping cart. Patience is having faith in the truth of Romans: 8:28:

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God.”
Patience is accepting not just “some things” that we ask God to send into our lives, such as “patience”, but “all things“ that God sends. As it is impossible to have faith without patience, it is also impossible to have patience without faith.
When I have faith in the power and love of God, then on what basis can I complain about any perceived delays? It is my faith in God’s perfect will that provides me with patience.
Bruce W. Durbin
(copyright 2004)


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