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Patience

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“Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1, New King James Version).

How long does it take before God answers a prayer? Is there a point when we just give up asking? Even if we find prayer—and how to receive an answer—so unclear at times, the Bible assures us persistence will pay off. The Lord gave two parables illustrating this.

Luke 18 tells the story of a widow seeking justice in her situation. The judge seems a harsh man with little regard for God or man. Yet, because of the widow’s constant pleading, he took action in her behalf. It was the only way to get her to go away. The parable goes on to say that God will respond to His chosen ones more speedily than this judge.

The second parable on persistence is found in Luke 11. A man has a traveler come to his house at midnight, and he has no food to feed his guest. He goes to a friend and asks for three loaves of bread. Even though they are friends, the man is unwilling to rise from his bed to help him. Yet because of his persistent knocking, the man finally gets up and gives him bread.

We sometimes feel God isn’t listening or just won’t answer. It seems like we have been praying for a very long time to no avail. Let’s consider two things: God’s will and His timing.

God’s Will

“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him” (I John 5:14-15, NKJV).

James 4:3 tells us that sometimes we are asking with the wrong motives. Our hearts must be free of anger, bitterness, or revenge. Ask God to reveal if your request is from pure motives and in alignment with His Word. We must be willing to submit to His will. Isaiah 55:8-9 tells us His thoughts and His ways are higher than ours.

God’s Timing

We may not understand why God delays in answering our prayers, but we must trust His plan is ultimately best for us. Claim the words of Habakkuk 2:3 as assurance God will bring it to pass at the right time.

“For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry” (NKJV)

We don’t know what God is doing behind the scenes, but we should “Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17).

Be patient in your persistence.

Prayer: Give me wisdom, Lord, to determine Your will in my life. As I put my petition before You, keep my motives pure. Help me to wait with patience for Your perfect timing in my situation. Even though I may not understand Your purpose in what is happening, I can trust that it is ultimately for my good.

“And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience:” (Ephesians 5:3).

During our lifetime, we will face tribulation. We don’t like it, but it does make us stronger.

You may have heard the saying, “Don’t pray for patience, it brings tribulation!” In order to have patience or perseverance, we need tribulation. When we persevere, we continue despite all the difficulties we are going through. The more patience we have, the more steadfast we become.

God allows tribulation in our lives to develop our trust in Him.  When we get to a place where we want to give up; our endurance is put to the test.

“Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory” (Ephesians 3:13).

Being steadfast means that no matter what comes our way, we will not be swayed. We rely on God for everything. We realize that He will bring us through the tribulation if we keep our focus on Him. It doesn’t make the tribulation go away, but it is reassuring to know that God is in control and that the tribulation won’t last.

Prayer: Lord, help me to endure through this tribulation. I know that You are working it is for my good. Teach me to stay steadfast in You! Amen.

BY MISHELLE NALLY

“And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti” (Esther 2:17).

The Book of Esther is a small book tucked into the middle of the Old Testament. It contains just ten short chapters, with a beautiful young Jewish orphan and her older cousin as two of the central characters. The book contains a bit of love, a bit of intrigue, good versus evil, and a happy ending when good triumphs over evil. God is never mentioned in the book, but don’t be fooled. He is involved in the story the entire time.

Because the Book of Esther is small and easily read in a short time, we sometimes feel events are happening one, two, three, the end. The story is really spread over several years with silent gaps. Markers help us see the timeline: “in the third year of his reign” (Esther 1:3), “in the seventh year of his reign” (2:16), “in the twelfth year of king Ahasuerus” (3:7).

Beyond the basic story of deliverance of God’s people, we learn other valuable lessons from Esther.

  • There are no coincidences when God is at work.

God used the actions of Queen Vashti to bring Esther to the palace (chapters 1-2). God placed Mordecai in the king’s gate at the exact time to overhear the plot of Bigthan and Teresh (2:21-23). God gave the king insomnia so he would call for the chronicles to be read to him. It wasn’t by chance they read him the part relating the conspiracy Mordecai overheard (6:2-3).

  • It may seem nothing is happening, but God is working behind the scenes.

At least nine years passed between the first chapter of Esther to when Haman’s evil plan was exposed to the king. During that time, God was moving all the pieces in place so he could save His people from destruction. Just because we don’t know what is happening doesn’t mean nothing is happening.

It’s the same with our lives. Our story may not be as dramatic as Esther’s, but God is working in us and through us to bring His purposes to pass. We may not recognize the importance of events until much later. What seems just a chance happening may really be God putting all the pieces in place.

  • You are part of God’s story.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” (Jeremiah 1:5, NKJV).

Like a jigsaw puzzle, the picture isn’t complete until the last piece is put in place. Be patient. Your life fits in His plan.

Prayer: Lord, when I look at my life, I don’t always feel what I do counts for Your kingdom. I’m not seeing the whole picture or how all the pieces fit. I can’t see what You are doing behind the scenes. Help me to trust You with my life and realize that with Your help, my life does count. You saw me before I was even born, and You have a plan that includes me.