Lengthening Patience Shortens Troubles

To lengthen my patience, is the best way to shorten my troubles; and to lessen my patience, is the speediest way to lengthen my pain.

I am my own foe if I offer to limit God. He is sure, though, to my depraved flesh, he be slow. ‘I shall reap in time, if I faint not.’ My God never fails of coming at his own time, the best time, though he seldom comes at our time. … Though it tarry, it will surely come; it will not tarry one moment beyond God’s time.

—George Swinnock
Adapted from The Works of George Swinnock, 2:147.

Excerpts Quotes

Sour Grapes

“Ungodly men are too impatient to wait for solid and eternal pleasures, but snatch at the pleasures of sin, which are but for a season. These resemble children who cannot tarry till the grapes are ripe, and therefore eat them sour and green.”

Pleasure lies mainly in hope, and yet some men will not give space for hope to grow in: it must be now or never; all to-day, and to morrow may starve. In business, men put out their money, foregoing its use themselves, that it may, after a while, return to them with increase; but carnal men are all for keeping the bird in the hand, and cannot wait for joys to come.

Yet these hasty delights are not satisfying. Man was not made to find his heaven upon earth, nor can he do so, even though he labors after it. The grapes plucked in this untimely season cause ere-long a griping of the heart, and a gnawing within the soul. We are not ready for fulness of joy, nor is the joy ready for us. Our wisdom is to be preparing for eternal bliss by present holiness, believing that he who is making us ready for heaven is making heaven ready for us. This is the surest way to present satisfaction, which must always be found in careful obedience to the divine will from day to day, and in a believing expectation of glory to be revealed.

O thou who art “the God of hope,” grant that, by thy hope which thou hast wrought in us, we may be daily purified, and set free from the defilement of this present evil world.

—Charles H. Spurgeon
Flowers from a Puritan’s Garden (Passmore & Alabaster, 1883).


Pursue Patience

Beg of God a waiting frame of spirit

As there is nothing more sinful in itself, nor more tormenting to ourselves in an evil day, than an impatient, hasty spirit, so there is nothing more conducive to our glorifying of God, nor to the quiet of our own spirits, than a silent waiting spirit.

This the God of heaven must give, and He gives it to them that ask Him

Beg of God those graces which may dispose you to this patient waiting. I might instance in many habits of grace necessary to bring the soul into this waiting temper, but I will touch only upon five:

  1. Beg faith of God, faith in His Word and promise. He that believes does not make haste. The hastiness and impatience of the soul is the result of distrust in God.
  2. Hope is another gracious habit which disposes the soul to waiting. We hope for what we see not. For what we see, why do we any longer wait for?
  3. Humility is a third. The proud soul thinks much to wait; he looks upon mercy as his due, and thinks that God has wronged him while He withholds it from him. The humble soul believes that it deserves nothing, and is therefore willing upon the least crevice of hope to wait on God.
  4. Pray for patience. A passive patience is necessary in order to the bearing of evils.
  5. Pray for meekness. A forward spirit is always a hasty spirit, and does not know how to wait.

—John Collinges, 1623-1690


Waiting on the Lord

We live in the day of the unprecedented instant. The world has never known instant like we do.

We have Google (which in a search for “instant” renders “About 1,610,000,000 results” in 0.24 seconds). We have mobile phones, digital photography, instant messaging, texting, and broadband Internet connectivity. We have access to books, music, news, weather, stats, and movies on demand. We have fast-acting medications, instant food, and instant drinks.

And do we honestly think that these things will have no meaningful effect on the way we process life?

The more we become accustomed to the “instant” the more impatient, inattentive, and discontent we become in the whole of life. Perhaps more than ever we are people who “hate” to wait on anything. We hate lines, traffic, and slow connections.

These trends have a tendency to foster spiritual impatience, inattentiveness, and discontentment. Discipline in the various means of grace that the Lord has so lovingly given us becomes more and more difficult when existential gratification can be known so instantly.

One of my most self-recited Psalms is 25:4-5:

      Make me to know your ways, O LORD;
      teach me your paths.
      Lead me in your truth and teach me,
      for you are the God of my salvation;
      for you I wait all the day long.

The phrase that arrested my attention this morning is found in the last line, “for you I wait all the day long.” One simple concept, which appears so foreign to my world.

This is not an isolated reflection of those who love the Lord. We are told in Ps 27:14: “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” Again, “Wait for the LORD and keep his way” (Ps 37:34). “I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope” (Ps 130:5). The Proverbs remind us, “Do not say, ‘I will repay evil’; wait for the LORD, and he will deliver you.” (Pr 20:22).

Our waiting on the Lord speaks of our resting, trusting, and looking for His answers and will in our life. It speaks of our contentment in Christ, of our attentiveness to Christ, of our satisfaction and fulfillment in Christ that yields patience and perseverance to live for Him. Those who wait on the Lord in true faith are renewed in spiritual strength to do His will while they eagerly look forward to His work (Is 40:31). Waiting involves the inner essence of our being, our very soul. This ought to be the response of our heart when answers are wanting, feelings are lacking, and circumstances are troubling.

Too many in our fast-paced life, becoming more and more instant, struggle with feelings and seemingly lack the desire of the Lord in their life. We would do well to remember David’s testimony: “I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry.” (Ps 40:1). We should remember Jeremiah’s cry, “The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.” (La 3:25). And Micah’s resolve, “But as for me, I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.” (Mic 7:7). May we say with Isaiah, “In the path of your judgments, O LORD, we wait for you; your name and remembrance are the desire of our soul.” (Is 26:8).

Waiting on the Lord is worship. The Lord says, “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!’” (Ps 46:10). May we this day, be more deliberate, more intentional, more purposeful in our thoughts, actions, reactions, words, attitudes, and overall stewardship of life on earth. In all that we do, may we “be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him” (Ps 37:7).

-Pastor Manny

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