Words of Worth

With Wings Like Eagles

June 22, 2012

“I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end.”

(Margaret Thatcher)

Patience is defined in the dictionary as “emotional quietness in the face of unfavorable circumstances, longsuffering, constancy, perseverance and steadfastness”.  Simply put, patience involves a great deal of wait time and staying power in the midst of unpleasant conditions.  That definition disqualifies “patience” from being my most favorite word and attribute.  I am not very good at waiting.  Waiting for something fun to happen, like waiting for the first day of vacation, is difficult enough let alone having to wait “in the midst of unpleasant conditions” such as waiting for pending surgery.

The Bible also offers great meaning to the word patience.  In the Old Testament, “waiting on the Lord” is a way of describing patience:

“I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, and in his word do I hope.  The strength that sustained him and can sustain us in waiting is hope, and the source of hope is the Word of God.”

Psalm 130:5

This verse implies that the Psalmist, rather than running ahead of the Lord, is following Him at His pace. Also, the Psalmist is not despairing but he is hopeful and patient as he waits for the Lord to show him the next move.  His source of hope is the Word of God.

Obviously the opposite of patience is impatience.  Isaiah 30:1-12 stands in great contrast to Psalm 130:5.  Isaiah the prophet was sent by God to tell Israel how He wanted them to respond when threatened by enemies like Assyria. However, as the enemy moved closer God was not moving fast enough as far as Israel was concerned.  In their impatience they took matters into their own hands and sought the protection of Pharaoh in Egypt without seeking the counsel of the Lord.  “They set out to go down to Egypt, WITHOUT ASKING FOR MY COUNSEL.” (Isaiah 30:2).  The result was:

“Therefore shall the safety of Pharaoh be your shame, And the shelter in the shadow of Egypt, your humiliation.”

 God told Israel that their impatience was going to backfire.  Egypt would not deliver them.  Their impatience turned out to be their shame and humiliation.  It is this aspect of impatience where I most mess up — making my plans, whatever they may be, without stopping to consult the Lord.  When my way is blocked and when my plans don’t unfold as I may desire, the Lord says it is better to trust Him and wait because if I run ahead without consulting Him, my plans may not be His plans.  The end result of taking matters into my own hands is that it will bring shame on me rather than glory.

What should we do instead? What should Israel have done?  The world’s advice would be to count to 10, breathe deeply, and play soothing music.  God’s wisdom, however, is found in verses 15 and 18:

“15 For thus the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, has said, ‘In repentance and rest you will be saved, In quietness and trust is your strength.’” 18 “Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you.”

Instead of dashing down to Egypt, we need to trust God to give us the strength to wait and to handle the stress in our lives.  If we refuse to plunge ahead and instead purpose to walk with God, He will give us a great blessing.  We battle the unbelief of impatience by persuasively teaching our hearts about the promises, timing, and guidance of God.  Only He can take our frustrations, obstacles, and fears and make something eternally valuable out of them. (sv)

“Yet those who wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.”

Isaiah 40:31

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