I married an amazing man. I write that unequivocally because not only its it verifiable but it also has nothing to do with me and everything to do with God’s undeserved grace in my life. While there are many wonderful things about my husband, one of the greatest things is his surreal amount of patience. Oftentimes I am the beneficiary of this virtue, for which I am very grateful, but even when I am not, I am blessed by the lesson that his patience teaches me. Lately this education has consisted of this truth – sometimes the greatest strength is found in waiting for God to work. When we are patient for what He wants we often get unexpected results that would never have been achieved on part of our own effort and strength.
The reason this lesson may have come later in life to me is that because it goes against much of what we’ve been taught in life. “God helps those who help themselves” is one example of counter-wisdom. We have been conditioned to believe that although we might acknowledge God is in charge of the universe we have to strive to arrange the details of our live to achieve that which we believe is His will. Its as if we think that somehow God abdicates the details in favor of our poor efforts at achievement. How untrue this is! We know He counts the hairs on our head (Matt. 10:30), why then wouldn’t we trust Him to handle the difficult job situation, the family conflict or the challenging friend? We want to jump in, muddy the details and work for what we think is rightly ours. We display our abilities through our efforts and think its is demonstrative of our strength when reality those that wait for God to work demonstrate true strength. Strength that comes from waiting for God to work, from relying on Him as a refuge and for knowing what He will accomplish will far exceed what we ever could.
It is like when sailor try to combat a storm. With all their might, they fight the waves, struggle against the wind and strive for peace. Regardless of their efforts, the sanest thing for them to do is to wait out the storm. They can prepare, they can do what’s asked of them, but no amount of work is going to abate the tempest. Only when their patience has born fruit, will they have the calm they desire. Only then, will the seas be safe to sail.
Perhaps this truism of patient strength is this best displayed in our relationships with others. When we recognize how patient God has been in our lives with our repeated sin, we become more amenable to being patient with others. While we may think that those who are strong are those who direct conflict and challenges head on, oftentimes those who are strong are those that endure injustice, take the personal hit, and appear to be a doormat, in favor of showing love. Their unwillingness to fight for what they deserve may be perceived as weakness but in reality its in recognition that their strength is insufficient for the task. By relying on what God is going to do, and knowing that the call to love is not contingent on the person’s response, their patience portends of a strength that most can not fathom. Its the strength of patience.
On this side of heaven, we may never be able to fathom while the weak are strong (I Cor. 1:27), the last will be first (Matt. 20:16) or the humble exalted (Luke 14:11). In the same vein the strength of patience over the fervor of action may never make sense while we remain in this world. But for those that can hold on to this truth, regardless of what the world throws at them, comes a security that those who work on their own can not imagine. It is this security that allows them to sail through whatever the world brings on.