“Impatience is the result of unbelief.”
These words (the negative way of stating the title of this post) are what triggered the theme for this post; upon reading them a determination was birthed to receive Grace to “let patience have her perfect work, that [I] might be perfect and entire lacking nothing” (James 1:4). But let’s first look at two striking examples of impatience in the Bible.
“…Because you did not believe…” (Numbers 20:12)
In Numbers 20:7-12 we read “… the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,’Take the rod; … gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; … Moses took the rod … and [he] and Aaron gathered the assembly…before the rock; and he said to them, ‘Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?’ Then Moses…struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly…Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel…you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.”
Some may say what an unusual and severe penalty for not taking God at His Word and simply obeying Him! Yet here is another example of a man anointed by God to represent Him to His people, who likewise was impatient because he didn’t believe the prophet who had spoken God’s words to him.
“…You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the Lord…which He commanded you…now your kingdom shall not continue.” (I Samuel 13:13,14)
In I Samuel 10 Samuel had instructed Saul to wait seven days till he had returned from Gilgal (v.8); but after waiting just seven days, Saul got impatient and offered burnt offerings without Samuel (1 Samuel 13:8,9), thus disobeying the commandment of the Lord (i.e., not believing that the Lord would be faithful through His prophet. This unbelief - a blatant lack of trust in God - cost Saul the kingdom Click To Tweet(v.14a). This man, David, who knew the Lord so intimately and trusted Him implicitly, had learned and would display patience.
“Be still and rest in the Lord, wait for Him and patiently lean yourself upon Him” (Psalm 37:7a)
David many times wrote of the benefits of “patiently waiting” for and on the Lord, one of which is that the Lord is the safe refuge of “the poor and patient” (Psalm 14:6). Indeed David’s life revealed how “blessed (…happy…with…satisfaction in God’s favor…regardless of…outward conditions) are the poor in spirit…, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven!” (Matthew 5:3)
“…tribulation worketh patience” (Romans 5:3b)
We would not naturally choose this means of the Lord to develop patience in our lives! But men of God such as David, and also Paul and James, embraced it. Paul gloried in tribulations because of what they produced in his life (Romans 5:3-5). Click To Tweet James likewise wrote: “Consider it wholly joyful…whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort. Be assured…that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.” (James 1:2,3) What was behind the mindset of these three men, that they could so trust God in the midst of innumerable trials and deep tribulation?
“Love endures long and is patient…” (1 Corinthians 13:14a)
The word patient here in Greek is makrothumeia – i.e., to be long-minded, long-suffering and not quick to get angry. These three men were persuaded of and anchored in the Love of God – toward themselves and all others. Therefore, they had capacity for patient endurance. David, for example, spoke often to his soul words such as this: “My soul, wait only upon God and silently submit to Him: for my hope and expectation are from Him.” (Psalm 62:5) And again, in Psalm 27:14 – “Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage [there is no fear in Love] and let your heart be stout and enduring…”.
“By your steadfastness and patient endurance you shall win the true life of your souls.” (Luke 21:19)
We don’t have to be an impatient Saul or an impetuous Moses! By keeping ourselves in the Love of God (Jude 21), by receiving abundant Grace to let patience have her perfect work (James 1:4) through trials and tribulations, by waiting upon the Lord and acting in Faith-obedience, we will indeed be able to “run the race with patient endurance” (Hebrews 12:1) and thus “fully accomplish the Will of God” (Hebrews 10:36).