Author: Ron Graham
We began our studies on “patience” by looking at God's patience toward us. We now consider our patience toward God.
The Bible links together "the patience and the faith of the saints" (Revelation 13:10). God's providence toward you and me and all mankind is such that we must trust God, keep his word, and wait upon him. So our patience toward God stems from our faith in him. One of the descriptions of patience in the Bible says, "Here is the patience of the saints... those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus" (Revelation 14:12).
In faith and hope we "by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality —eternal life" (Romans 2:7). This is the nature of our patience toward God.
Paul complimented the Christians in Thessalonica on their "patience and faith" They were going through tough times, yet Paul says to them, "your faith is enlarged" (2Thessalonians 1:3-4).
The Hebrews are encouraged to imitate "those who through faith and patience inherit the promises" (Hebrews 6:12). Notice again the connection between patience and faith. The writer goes on to discuss the promise God made to Abraham and Sarah. We realise that they were not perfect in their faith and patience toward God. Had they been fully trusting and patient, Hagar would not have borne Ishmael. Nevertheless, the faith and patience of Sarah and Abraham is a great example to us (Hebrews 11:8-19).
The more we trust and believe in someone, the more patient we are toward them. If a tradesman promises to come as soon as possible, we will wait for him more patiently if we trust him and know that he is reliable and means what he says. (The tradesman will also be more patient and understanding of our calls upon him, given that he knows and trusts that we are genuine and not humbugs). Likewise our patience with God depends upon, and is a measure of, how much we trust and believe in him.
James says, "...faith produces patience," but I left something important out of that quote. It should read, "the testing of your faith produces patience" (James 1:3-4). God strengthens our belief and trust in him by testing. Each time we pass a test we become stronger in our faith and longer in our patience toward God.
One of the words used in the Bible to express patience is “keeping” in the sense of holding on to and not losing our faith and obedience. We show our patience by “keeping” God's commandments (Revelation 14:12). We build up our faith and show our patience by “keeping” ourselves in the love of God (Jude 1:20-21). We “keep” the faith (2Timothy 4:7).
In Revelation Jesus blesses those who are watchful keepers. They are not (metaphorically speaking) in bed naked and asleep, but they stay awake and “keep” themselves clothed and on watch (Revelation 16:15).
Sometimes people keep things because they are too lazy to get rid of them. However, people also keep things patiently for years because they believe that some day those things will have great value.
Another word used used in the Bible to express patience is “waiting”. "Wait for the Lord. Be strong and let your heart take courage. Yes, wait for the Lord" (Psalms 27:14). "Be still in the Lord and wait patiently for him... those who wait for the Lord will inherit the land" (Psalms 37:7-9). "Wait for the Lord and keep his way" (Psalms 37:34).
James, when exhorting us to be patient, uses the illustration of the farmer who “waits” for the rains and for the crops to grow (James 5:7-8).
"God acts on behalf of the one who waits for him" (Isaiah 64:4). When we pray to God, we wait patiently for his answer, because we know and believe that he will act for us, even though it may take a long time (1John 5:14-15).
Joseph’s ups and downs
Joseph (Genesis 37-45) had some high and low periods in his life. In the lows, he had to wait upon God. Of course God did not forget Joseph, and Joseph's faithful waiting was rewarded. The graph at right represents Joseph's ups and downs. But a chart of your life would show similar highs and lows. You too need to be patient with God and wait upon him. He did not forget Joseph, and he won't forget you.
Concept Bevan Jackel