I have bemused on many occasions how we are no longer a culture that values patience. We have raised a number of generations now to expect instant everything. Change crept in slowly until every wish of the consumer is now met. Remember when banks were open from 10 am to 3 pm and there were no such things as automatic tellers? No such thing as debit cards either. If you wanted money from your account you either had to wait until the next banking day or write a cheque. Think of how annoyed we are when we go to the store and the thing we want is out of stock. We can get almost anything delivered to our door now within 30 minutes. There are not a lot of things we need to wait for any more.
Young couples would have to save up for years to be able to afford a new car or a house. Yet now they manufacturers offer loans at 0% financing and here in Canada qualified people can get mortgages without the 10% or 25% down payment. Why work hard and save when we can possess it now? So here we are with loan crisis happening all around us as governments spend without thinking and individuals lose everything because of bad planning. Even governments are failing, as we look at Greece's situation. Many other countries have come close to the same situation and unless someone does something about it the United States will be facing the same crisis where it cannot pay it's debts. Have we not learned our lesson from the latest financial crisis that has thrown the world into a global recession? Putting a complicated situation simply, it is all due to our lack of patience. Of course. in this matter, the Church reflects our culture instead of Jesus' heart.
If new church plants do not start with 100 people and have great growth every year we consider it a failure and close it. If ministry does not see great fruit within a year we close it and move on to something else. We fail to consider the Scriptures council in such matters. Jesus worked with 12 men for 3 years to prepare a foundation for what was to come. To build a nation God chose one family and took hundreds of years. This nation had to be forged in the fires of hardships and great battles. It is the generation that spent 40 years in the desert that was the strongest generation in the history of Israel. That generation had to show a great deal of patience and trust with God before receiving what he had promised. Abraham died long before he saw the promised fulfilled, but he trusted and he obeyed and he knew he was only the seed of this promise that would be fulfilled generations down the road. This is the same patience we are told to have:
Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near. Don't grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! (James 5:7-9)
The warning against grumbling is wise. Grumbling stirs up discontent which is in contrast to a spirit or attitude of patience. Consider the generation of Israel that was not permitted to enter the promised land. They were far from patient, constantly grumbling against Moses and God. If we allow a spirit of discontentment and complaining to rest on us we will lose the joy and perhaps in later years we may walk away from our salvation. Instead, rejoice always and in everything because Jesus is using everything for our good. This must be the theme of our life so that we are able to see the good benefits in every situation. Such an attitude lends itself to a life of patience and trust.
James tells us if we have a problem understanding the importance of patience we should consider the examples God has given us and see what the results were:
Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. (James 5:10-11)
Just understand that patience is not always working toward something for a year. That could be patience but sometimes the work of the Lord can take a lifetime and we may not even see it completed because we are the seed for something in the generations to come. Do not give up after a little bit of time unless the Spirit tells you to walk away. We should never begin a work without the direction of the Spirit so we should never end it either without that same direction. Your perseverance in the desert seasons could be the catalyst to something big the Lord is planning. The angel warned Zachariah not to despise small things so don't you do it either. Success in the Kingdom is never measured in size but instead in endurance. What is of the Lord will last through any and all testing fires but what is of our doing will burn up in such fires. I pray that your life and your ministry will stand up under such fires. Don't give up; realize the Lord's perspective and press on with great patience and endurance. The harvest is coming.