If there is one trait that we hold that hinders us most, it is impatience. Even above pride, although it is in our pride that we find our lack of patience. Our impatience manifests itself in a number of ways: prayerlessness, an unforgiving heart, anger and discord for those we feel wronged by, anxiousness for the details of tomorrow, and an underwhelming distrust in the ways of the God who claims us as His.
The first several Psalms, written by David, allow us insight as to how persistent he was in reminding himself to be patient before the Lord. “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes” (Psalm 37:7). When our focal point zeros in on those who’ve caused us pain and turmoil, or our motivation to right unjust wrongs that we witness, we risk being overcome by sometimes futile attempts to serve justice without fully considering Him who is just in all His plans. “Wait for the Lord and keep his way” (Psalm 37:34). What is His way that we are to keep? To turn from evil and do good (Psalm 37:27), to keep God’s law in our heart (Psalm 37:31), and know that our hope is in Him (Psalm 39:7).
Whether our lack of patience in waiting for God to deliver us from pain, physical or emotional, or the arrows being aimed at us from those around us, we are told to wait. And while we wait, we are told to trust and delight in Him (Psalm 37:3-5). David’s life experiences could be considered extreme; surely moreso than any of ours. It is him that is counseling us to wait on God, regardless of our circumstances. It is him who pounds into each of the Psalm writings where he pours out how necessary it is to have patience and, perhaps more importantly, to realize that “If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand” (Psalm 37:23-24). How can we know that God delights in our ways? When our pride takes a backseat and we are humble enough to confess our iniquities and be troubled by our sin (Psalm 38:18), when we desire to do His will and His law is within our heart (Psalm 40:8), and when we make Him our trust, not looking to the proud or those who turn aside to false gods (Psalm 40:4).
Each one of us are patients ailed with a case of impatience. We’re eager to see the results of our labor in the workplace, in parenting, in our marriages, and with our health. Perhaps if we could keep the focus of our striving so as to be pleasing to God, first and foremost, our restlessness would subside since the deeds done would be for His glory, all the while maintaining an integrity and clear conscience because we are looking to Him for guidance as we wait. If in attaining the goal simply to seek His laws and make honest attempts to follow His decrees, as only ample time spent searching His Word will provide, could we finally acquire pure patience in wholly trusting in His timing? Certainly so. However, crossing the line from impatience to patience takes constant reminders, as David shows us. He perpetually writes of how to wait on the Lord in everything, still crying out for respite, but repeating to himself, and his readers today, the irreplaceable peace sought and only found when trusting what God is doing even as we wait.
So where are the arrows coming from in our lives as we impatiently wait on God to do His work? Relationship struggles, health concerns, financial insufficiency, or even the desire to feel closer to God if you’ve been in the desert? He tests us, has purposes in place for us, and delights in us when we look to Him while we’re in any season of waiting. After all, what better time is there to dig into His Word in hopes of finding whatever we’re looking for? While we wait, while we pray ceaselessly, while we seek to know what He delights in, we can strive to attain a goal that encompasses patience within it; we can say along with David, “For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light” (Psalm 36:9).