Patience in My Garden
A few years ago, when our carefully designed gardens in the back yard were torn up installing a sprinkler, the picture looked devastating. How long would it take to re-create those beautiful spaces? We had finally planted the kind of gardens I had wanted. But I wasn’t feeling very patient about then.
Patience When Life Happens
You may not be a gardener, but I bet you know what I’m talking about. Just when you thought everything was manageable, life happened. And the damage left behind looked something like the picture on the left of the above collage. Problems–known as “challenges,” or even “friends,” as some Bible translations or paraphrases call our trials– swoop in leaving an unpleasant trail. And usually, patience gets sort of trapped somewhere in the middle–or out of sight completely.
In the Living Bible, James 1: 4 says:
“So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete.”
Patience for Your God-given Vision
Maybe you had a legitimate God-given vision of success, but then all hell seemed to break loose to destroy it. In Oswald Chambers’ classic devotional, My Utmost for His Highest, he says, “God gives us a vision, and then He takes us down to the valley to batter us into the shape of that vision. It is in the valley that so many of us give up and faint. Every God-given vision will become real if we will only have patience.”¹
Patience with Our Flaws
Sometimes our character has deep flaws we can’t even see. But God can. And He won’t ignore them. Gently, firmly, He prods us, helping us see our blindness. If we listen and observe, we’ll get it–this time. Or not. But God doesn’t give up. He’s patient, even when we’re not. In the end, it’s easier if we listen and respond well the first time.
What’s the Solution?
So what’s the solution? What do you do when patience is lacking? How can you develop more patience, whether in parenting, marriage, with friends, at work, or with other personal challenges and dilemmas?
Two other verses of that same passage in James says this:
“Dear brothers, is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy, for when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow” (James 1:2-3, TLB).
You may be more familiar with the phrase from the King James translation:
“Let patience have its perfect work,” (v. 4).
Be patient, in other words. 🙂 God isn’t finished with you yet.
Here are three simple things you can do to “let patience have its perfect work”:
1. Don’t get in a hurry. God doesn’t.
2. Ask God to teach you what He wants you to know through everything you’re experiencing. (A lot better than rebelling!)
3. Give thanks that God is using the circumstances to make you more like Him. That is His goal, you know.
Think about the places and ways God uses this familiar method of teaching us patience and letting it have its perfect work:
Patience in Our Prayer Life
Some names on my prayer list are growing yellow with age. Twenty-plus years is a long time to pray for someone. But I’m still praying. And strangely, my prayer life is growing, just trusting God’s track record of faithfulness and knowing He’s hearing their names often. But then, He never forgets a name—or a need.
Patience in Our Marriage or Relationships
Having experienced some years of dysfunction in our marriage, I know by experience what it means to “hit the wall.” But I also know what’s on the other side of that wall. Patience has had and is having its perfect work in our relationship. Patience kept us going. Correction. God kept us going when we refused to sit still and give up. Patience produces forgiveness. Or is it the other way around? They both go hand-in-hand, and relationships must have them to thrive.
Patience in Deciphering World Events
Naysayers can’t see anything positive in our world today—or in the lives of others. Evil runs rampant; morals are corrupt; nothing good lasts. Patience sees the predictions and the destruction playing out their inevitable end, but chooses to be part of the solution to make their world better. Jesus brought a lasting solution. And He called us to follow in His footsteps, sharing His message with others.
It only took my garden a couple of years to fully recover. And the sprinkler was definitely worth the effort. You know what else I’m learning? It always pays to trust God’s timetable. His calendar is best and produces the most lasting results. Always.
My Personal Prayer for You
Lord, when we pray for patience, we know that usually means we will hit challenges head on. But may we truly see those problems and situations as friends that help us grow more into Your image. How we need Your character, Lord! How we need Your patience. Teach us to depend on You and to wait on Your perfect timetable. Your perspective is different from ours. Your ways are not our ways. But they are good, and they are perfect, like You.
This post was first published on Crosswalk as 3 Simple Ways to “Let Patience Have Its Perfect Work,” on April 23, 2015.
¹Osawald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (c) 1992 by Oswald Chambers Publications Association, Ltd., Discovery House Edition, Edited by James Reimann.
You might also enjoy this post I wrote called, Five Questions to Ask When You’re in God’s Waiting Room.
It’s Your Turn
How has God taught you patience? Where do you struggle most with patience? I love to hear from readers. You can always write me through my contact page. Just fill out the basic name and address info, and then the email will come to me. Your name or info will never be shared with anyone without your permission.
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