“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act . . . Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him.” (Psalm 37:5, 7, ESV)
Patience seems in short supply these days with many people. They resent waiting in line, expect service in mere seconds, and feel their time is more important than anyone else’s. We live in an impatient world. Sometimes I just wave them ahead, and smilingly say, “I’m retired. I have time to wait.” The one or two minutes I might save by pushing forward just doesn’t matter that much. There’s a lot less stress that way too.
It’s one thing to be impatient in the grocery store or restaurant and completely different to be impatient with God. That kind of impatience may bring unexpected and unwelcome consequences.
- Abraham and Sarah received a promise from God that they would have a child. Becoming impatient, they implemented their own plan by having a child through Sarah’s servant, Hagar. Even today we see the consequences of that action. (Read Genesis 16.)
- The children of Israel grew impatient while waiting for Moses to come down from the mountain and demanded that Aaron make them a golden calf. That day 3,000 men were slain. (Read Genesis 32.)
- Moses became impatient with the Israelites when they complained about having no water. God told him to speak to the rock, but in his impatient anger he struck the rock instead. Because of this, God said he would not enter the Promised Land. (Read Numbers 20.)
- King Saul grew impatient while waiting for Samuel to come offer the sacrifice and decided to offer it himself. Because of his disobedience, God said He would no longer establish Saul’s kingdom forever. (Read I Samuel 13.)
When we become impatient with God or move ahead of Him in making decisions, we may also end up with unexpected consequences. I saw this happen with a friend when she decided to quit her job and move to another state. She never really explained why she was suddenly making this change and refused counsel on it. Although her plans were not going smoothly, which should have been a warning, she insisted on following through. (The emphasis here is on “her” plans.) Her hasty decision unfortunately held eternal consequences.
When we think about it, impatience is a form of pride. We are taking control of the situation, pulling it out of God’s hands. We are asserting that what we think is more important than what God desires for us. In each of the situations discussed above, the person impatiently wanted things to go their way.
Ecclesiastes 7:8 tells us that, “Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit” (ESV).
Patience is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), but impatience is the fruit of pride. Not only is pride sinful, but it is also dangerous. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18, ESV).
Most of us probably struggle with impatience at times, perhaps more often than we care to admit. I may get impatient at a traffic signal or in a long line at the store, but I really do not want to become impatient with God. I must trust His plan. Psalm 37:5-7 provides some valuable keys to keep our impatience under control.
- Commit our way to God. Surrender control of the situation.
- Trust Him. He will keep His promises.
- Rest in the Lord. Let Him handle it.
- Wait patiently. His timing will be perfect.
- Don’t fret. There’s no need to worry when God is in control.
Lord, help me to relax and wait while You work out the things in my life that cause worry and impatience. Help me to surrender control to You for Your ways are always best.