There’s a story about a woman who sees a father shopping with a fussy 2-year-old in his grocery cart. “Be patient, Billy,” he whispers. “You can handle this, Billy. It’s OK, Billy.”
The woman, impressed, finally says to the man, “I don’t mean to interrupt your shopping, but I just had to tell you how wonderfully loving and patient you are with little Billy.”
The man replies, “Actually, my son’s name is Patrick. My name is Billy.”
Almost all of us struggle with patience and wonder, “How can I get more?” According to God’s word, patience is fed and nurtured by great unseen realities (things that the Holy Spirit must open our eyes to). God loves you. God is in control. God is at work in your life.
God Loves You — If you have had your eyes opened to your great need for a savior, if you have turned from your own goodness and finally embraced Jesus as your gracious sin-bearer and gracious law-keeper, then wherever you are and whatever situation you find yourself in know this: God loves you.
The apostle Paul made it crystal clear in Romans 8 that there is nothing in heaven or on earth that can separate God’s children from his love. Yet when someone makes us wait for something we want, we don’t feel loved. We feel like they don’t care or they have forgotten us. When God has you in a place of waiting, fix your eyes on what is unseen: God loves me. He has not forgotten me.
God is in Control — Wherever you find yourself, at a long red light or waiting to see a change in your spouse or child or in bed with a terminal illness, God is in control. He has you and those around you just where you are.
Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote a book some years ago entitled "Why Bad Things Happen to Good People." Kushner was trying to answer why God allows awful things to happen in this world. His final conclusion was that God is loving and compassionate, but that even God cannot control everything that happens.
Let me be very clear: that is not the God of the Bible. Scripture says, “Our God is in the heavens, he does whatever he pleases” (Psalm 115:3). “He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done?” (Daniel 4:35). The Heidelberg Catechism says it like this, “all things, even health and sickness, come to us, not by chance, but by God’s hand.”
Do you see, when you simmer over your circumstances, you are really simmering at God who has you right where you are. But remember — this is a God who loves you. A God who loves you has you just where you are, moving at the pace he would have you to move. But there is more than that … there is purpose in what God is doing.
God is at Work in Your Life — When we find ourselves having to wait, God is working on us. When I am dealing with a frustrating family member or person at work or a frustrating situation, I am wanting them to change, but more often than not, God is wanting to change me.
We have to know this truth. When these hard things come into our lives God is not trying to frustrate us. God has purposes in placing us in these hard places. We don’t know all those good purposes each time, but I do know this: He places us in situations that we cannot bear, not so we will blow our tops, but so will lean all the harder on the strength of Jesus.
Sometimes I think about it like the original "Karate Kid" movie. In the movie, Mr. Miagi agrees to teach a young boy, Daniel, karate. Daniel comes to Mr. Miagi’s house to begin his training and everyday Mr. Miagi gives him some hard, menial task to do: wax his cars, paint his fence, sand the floor. Daniel can’t stand it and finally he is ready to quit. What he finds is that in all these frustrating situations, Mr. Miagi has been ingraining the basic motions of karate. All of these seemingly meaningless and frustrating tasks had a purpose — to shape Daniel into what Mr. Miagi meant for him to be.
In our waiting, God does not want us to just twiddle our thumbs or pick up an uninteresting magazine in the waiting room. He wants us to come and meet with him. “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy-burdened and I will give you rest.”
And in that waiting room God starts to work on us.
James Calderazzo is pastor of Safe Harbor Presbyterian Church in Destin. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.