How do you wait for something actively? Isn’t waiting just… waiting? I remember our pastor’s daughter saying, “I have prayed and prayed and prayed for a little sister and God just stands there!” She was trying to be active as she waited. She was praying.
Jms. 5:10 “Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.”
When we are faced with suffering, whatever its depth, God wants us to be patient within it. Not passively resigned (“I can’t do anything about it anyway,” with a sigh and shake of the head) but actively patient.
• There is action in coming back repeatedly to the solid foundation that God is good, loving, wise and all-powerful.
• There is action in pondering the fact that he never sacrifices one of those qualities for another but always acts in all of them for his glory and my ultimate very best good.
• There is action is bringing our minds back again and again to consider the fact that if God could accomplish his purpose in some other way that did not require this suffering, he would do it.
• There is action in remembering that God did not step out for a moment and in that moment of inattention this situation came upon me – no, he designed it for me to further the work of Romans 8:28-30. (28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.)
God can be trusted. Trusting him is the active work of patience, all intertwined with praying, pondering and believing more deeply the above truths. Patience is supported by the expression of those truths to ourselves and others, and back to God in prayer.
Prayer in suffering, then, would not be riddled with phrases like “Get me out of here!” but would instead be punctuated with praise that he is God and I am not… that there is purpose in this suffering… and that his grace is sufficient for me.
Recently, I have found it necessary to apply the above truths. I have not experienced anything recently that could be called suffering. But I have had to exercise active patience, that’s for sure.
We ordered new carpet for our home on 8/24. We were told it would be installed within 2 weeks. We began moving out of our house, dismantling our extensive library, etc. As time went on we enlisted the help of friends to move all our furniture into the back yard and into our garage. The installers came on 9/10, removed our old carpet, installed the new pad and unrolled the new carpet only to discover that it was flawed, with a 2” wavy white line right down the center of the roll.
Upon informing Lowe’s of the problem they could only say “It will take two weeks to get another roll here from the Stainmaster factory in Georgia. “No way to expedite that? Our furniture is all in the back yard and piled on top of itself in the garage!” “No, ma’am; 2 weeks.” Okay then…
On 9/20 I called to see if we could expect installation on Monday, 9/23. “Well, actually, ma’am, the second roll was also flawed so your carpet won’t be shipped from Georgia until Oct. 9.” We went in to the store and said “We’ll order a different pattern if it can be shipped on Monday. That would be at least 17 days earlier than a shipping date of 10/9. “Sorry, that won’t make any difference.”
Now that just didn’t make ANY sense at all to me but we were caught between a rock (Lowe’s) and a hard place (Stainmaster). We have been courteous most of the time. I have raised my voice once. We have entered a dispute with American Express and will not pay them until we are satisfied that we have the carpet we ordered.
Through all of this I know God has been at work calling me to active patience – not resignation, but actively keeping in the forefront of my mind that he is the blessed controller of every irritation and inconvenience that comes my (in addition to every moment of genuine suffering). Of course I have asked him to expedite what the human agents were incapable of expediting. Instead, he is empowering me, by his amazing grace, to remain calm when we are unable to locate things we think we need because they are at the bottom of the pile… somewhere.
This whole earth-life is but a mist that appears in the morning and then vanishes. What are 47 days (and counting) of chaos in my home? The very whisp of a mist.