Category Archives: Patience

Waiting for Directions

Weathervane showing North, South, East, West, with a horse on top of an arrow

This week’s post  is from a guest writer, Rebekah Lowe:

Waiting is hell. Okay, it isn’t, but it is really, really hard.

I have just come through a time of waiting, and it was no day at the beach. Unless it is a day with sunburn, sand in your shorts, and lots of jellyfish.  Waiting is hard. Even when I know all the things. Like, that I don’t want to rush ahead of God’s best choice for me. And that I can trust that there is a good reason that I am waiting.  And that He always thinks up better solutions for me than I do for myself.  And that He will take care of me in the meantime, while I wait.  Still…

We were going to sell our house and move.  Not just for fun.  But because we needed to reduce our expenses.  It took us awhile to face facts, to understand that a move was necessary.  But we came to realize it, researched best options to sell, and put the house on the market.  In terms of real estate markets, we live in a hot neighborhood, in a hot city, and it was Spring.  The triple threat, right?  We thought we would sell the house in a couple of days, for near asking price.  Everyone said so.  We had watched God sell houses with remarkable speed for us several times before.  I was fond of saying, “God does real estate!”, and He certainly does, just as he does anything He chooses to do for us.

The first weekend came and went, with many lookers, but no offers.  We  visited another possible home for us, and began to calculate what we might offer for that place.

hourglass with red sand

The first month came and went, with many lookers, but no offers.  We dropped the price a little, and I made my first of many spreadsheets, so I could analyze what we might net, at any given price.

I’m sorry to say, the first year came and went.  Year!!!  By then, I was just about at my wit’s end.  Price drops, a different real estate company, nothing seemed to help.  I still knew, just knew, that I dare not try to wrest control back from God.  Not that He wouldn’t let me, He would have.  God is a gentleman, as Lydia Floren says.

Rather, I knew whatever options I could manufacture would never live up to whatever He was waiting for.  AND, it seemed pretty evident that factors that made sense in this world, like market strength, price points, and selling strategies were not the barriers.

So, I waited.  Not without complaint.  Not all that patiently.  With the encouragement of my friends, I waited.  With pleas for Him to do whatever needed doing, I waited.  With Him meeting our needs all along the way, I waited.

And last week, He sold the house.  I still don’t know why we were waiting, God and me, but I know that good things came from it.

  • During the last year, I went from reluctantly selling the house to being thrilled that the house sold:  God gave me plenty of time to get used to the idea.  Maybe He knew I wasn’t ready.
  • I remembered what it is to wait without knowing what we are waiting for.  May I never blithely comfort a friend who is waiting again!
  • I learned yet again that God will continue to meet my needs, one step at a time.  Apparently, I have to relearn this regularly.  Maybe this will help me with a much harder problem down the road.
  • We found a wonderful new home that wasn’t available when our house went on the market.  Maybe someone in that neighborhood needs me, or maybe I need them.  Or, maybe God just thought it was a cute place for us.

So, if you are waiting, you have my full understanding, and buckets of empathy.  If you belong to God, what I cannot give you is sympathy.  Because, despite how it feels, good things are in the works for you, and you are being cared for all along the way.  This interminable waiting will end, and end well.

And remember the quote from the movie, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel?”  The hotel manager is reassuring a guest and says, encouragingly, “Everything will be all right in the end. If it’s not all right, it is not yet the end.”  So true for God’s people:  if it is not yet all right, it is not yet the end.  Just you wait.

Rebekah Lowe

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you. when you walk through fire you shall not be burned.  and the flame shall not consume you.  Isaiah 43:2

Praying for Patience

The words Praying for patience on a background of a purple petunia

“Whatever you do, don’t pray for patience!”

Have you ever heard someone say that? I know I have. It seems to be a common half-joking-but-more-serious warning, that Christians sometimes give each other. But why not pray for patience?  Isn’t patience one of the fruits of the Spirit? Isn’t it a great asset in our relationships and our faith? Why shouldn’t we pray for patience?  Here’s the reasoning:

“Don’t pray for patience,” people say, “because if you do, God’s going to send you a heap of trouble.”

But is that really true? Does God punish you for asking Him for patience? Does praying for patience give God a cart blanche to “Job-ify” your life by bringing you hardship?

No. Of course not.

Troubles are a part of life 

In fact, Jesus made it very clear that difficulties are a part of life, including (and sometimes especially) for believers.  “In the world you shall have tribulation” he said in John 16:33  If we think living a life of following God is trouble-free, we haven’t been reading our Bibles. Trials are a reality in each of our lives and they’re going to keep coming. Count on it.

An Opportunity

As far as I can tell, “praying for patience brings trouble” logic is based in a misunderstanding of Romans 5:3-4

“And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation works patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope.”  Romans 5:3-4 (AKJV)

Notice that Paul doesn’t say, “Pray for patience and God will bring tribulations (troubles).” He says glory – or be thankful – in your trouble, seeing it as an opportunity for good – patience – to come from the hardships.

Our Choice

Hard times are acomin’, and they will keep on coming. We have no choice about that.  But we do get to decide how we respond to adversity, and our choice will either make us bitter or better.

When we decide to give thanks (glory) in the middle of every situation, we are reminded that our difficult circumstance is not for nothing. At the very least it will strengthen our ability to be patient, and endure it with grace.

by Lydia Floren

So, What’s a Person To Do?

DIY??

So, What’s a Person To Do? [DIY?? Series, Part 2]

by Lydia Floren

If you are like me, most of your life you have heard some version of this saying:

“If you want something done right, you better do it yourself.” 

But, guess what?  Those words, and that concept, are not in the Bible, anywhere.  In fact, when we act independently in our lives – apart from God – we are doing the opposite of what the Bible teaches.

But, when things get tough, it is easy, isn’t it, to ditch our faith and take matters into our own hands? Especially, when our difficulties seem to go on and on, without our being able to see any hope or resolution.  When we quit waiting for God and choose self-reliance, our actions can take many forms, including avoiding, complaining, controlling, or self-indulgence. And, invariably, our way of doing things doesn’t make things better. Quite the opposite: it usually makes them much worse.

So, what’s a person to do when things go wrong, and continue to go wrong?

Wait. Patiently wait. Trust the God-Who-Loves-You.  And then, keep on trusting Him.

The Old Testament Israelites whined a lot. Isaiah 40 is a reality check for one of their gripe sessions. In the first part of the chapter, Isaiah answers their complaining by first reminding them of who God is. For example, in verses 12 and 13 he says,

Who else has held the oceans in his hand? Who has measured off the heavens with his fingers?

Who else knows the weight of the earth or has weighed the mountains and hills on a scale?

Who is able to advise the Spirit of the LORD? Who knows enough to give him advice or teach him?”

“Really? Are you serious?”, Isaiah seems to be saying, “Don’t you realize who you are talking to?  Listen while I refresh your memory.”

The last part, Isaiah 40:27-31, is one of my all time favorites. I first encountered these verses when I was a first year medical student. I was feeling overwhelmed and very sorry for myself. Isaiah’s words put things back in perspective.

O Jacob, how can you say the LORD does not see your troubles?

O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights?

Have you never heard? Have you never understood?

The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth.

He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding.

He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.

Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. 

But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength.

They will soar high on wings like eagles. 

They will run and not grow weary.

They will walk and not faint.  Isaiah 40:27-31  

My translation  

This is how I hear God speaking to me through these words:

“Really, Lydia? Really?? You think I don’t know what is going on here?  Newsflash:  I am the God of the universe. Of course I see what is happening. I GET IT.  So keep trusting Me. I will give you the power to move through your painful circumstances, and to rise above them.”

Southern Redneck Translation (SRT)

Or in southern redneck terms Isaiah is saying here:

“Quit yer bellyachin’. God’s got yer back. Hold yer hosses, and hang on to yer britches. Watch and learn, Son. Watch and learn.”  Isaiah 40:27-31 SRT 

So what’s a person to do?

Do you really want things done right?  Really? Then for heaven’s sake, don’t take matters into your own hands.  You have no idea what is really going on, or how to fix things properly. Believe me, you are liable to make matters worse instead of better.   If you really want things done right, trust God, and keep on trusting him. He will give you the strength to walk through your difficulties, and to learn to rise above them.

If You Want Something Done Right… (DIY?? Series Part 1)

DIY??

by Lydia Floren

We have all heard the saying, “If you want something done right, you better do it yourself.” But is that really true? Are you really the best person to fix every problem?

Think about it.  If your car is mechanically failing, are you going to watch a You-Tube video and pull out your wrench and start taking the engine apart?  If you have appendicitis, are you going to check Wikipedia, climb up on the kitchen table, get the butcher knife out, and whack away? I don’t think so. You, like me, are going to find the best expert available, and trust them to take care of things.

So, why are we so quick to take things into our own hands, when it comes to matters of faith?

Sure, we will trust a surgeon to take out our appendix and handle any post-op complications.  And, we will wait patiently for the best mechanic to fix our car properly.

But in difficult situations, especially those that don’t resolve promptly, we are quick to lose faith in God, who happens to be the best disaster-management expert in the universe.

Here’s an all-too-frequent scenario from my life:

1.  I feel pain.  This may be a physical pain, but often it is an emotional one, such as an unpleasant interaction that leaves me feeling wronged or slighted.  I’m not talking about the momentary unpleasantness that happens, say, when someone cuts me off in traffic. I’m talking about an ongoing dilemma, like a difficult relationship or an uncomfortable work situation, or a chronic health issue.

2.  I get restless. If the uncomfortable situation doesn’t resolve quickly (which for me is more than about 5 minutes) I get antsy. I don’t like pain. It needs to go away.

3.  I pray….maybe. (sometimes I skip this step.) I tell God, as if He didn’t know, exactly what my situation is, and politely ask Him to take care of it.   Before long (say, about 5 minutes), if nothing seems to be happening, I stomp my foot. “Why don’t you do something about this, God? Don’t you see what is happening here?”  Pretty soon, I start demanding, “God, get me out of this!  Make this go away! NOW!”

“…or else,” I whisper to myself, “I may just have to do it myself.”

4.  I decide it’s up to me. Here’s what goes thru my head:  “Somehow, God has missed the boat here. Maybe He isn’t seeing how much pain I am in.  Or maybe He sees it but just doesn’t matter to Him. Fine. Whatever. I’ll just handle it myself. After all, ‘if you want something done right, you better do it yourself.’  Isn’t that in the Bible somewhere?”

5.  I do my own thing. I try to eliminate the hurt (or the cause of it) myself. Here are a few ways I might do this typically by reverting to old coping mechanisms:

  • Avoiding. I dodge the person or situation that is causing me to feel this pain.
  • Complaining.  I make sure that not only God, but everyone around me knows how unjustly I have been treated.
  • Manipulating.  I try to manage or control the situation so the pain will stop, or at least lessen.
  • Self-indulging. I “treat myself” with something to take my mind off the pain. (Sort of an adult version of thumb-sucking.)  My favorite “pacifier” is food, particularly chocolate.  For others, it might be alcohol, surfing the net, working, shopping.

As you can imagine, when I take things into my own hands, they don’t turn out so well. Avoiding, complaining, manipulating and self-indulgence don’t make things better – they make them worse.

In Psalm 40:1-3, David said

I waited patiently for the LORD to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire.

He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.

He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God.

Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the LORD.

DIY??

Are you in the middle of a difficult situation?  Do you feel like God is not doing enough? Not doing anything?  For heaven’s sake, don’t make my mistake and try to take things into your own hands.   You will only make matters worse. Trust me, you will be  sooooo much better off, if you choose to keep your focus squarely on God, waiting patiently for His strength and direction.

Just remember: God is the best disaster-management expert in the universe.

Rest assured: He will unfailingly pull you up out of your mess and put your feet back on solid ground.

 

Shoes At My Door

Shoes At My Door

by Lydia Floren

When we first moved to Wisconsin, I was surprised to find that, when people came to visit, they always left their shoes at my door. I soon learned that Wisconsinites shed their shoes, just like they do their coats, when they enter someone’s home. Children learn to do this almost before they begin to walk. In fact, around here, taking your shoes off when you cross a threshold ranks right up there with the “yes ma’am’s” and “no ma’am’s” of the South: good when you do it, really rude when you don’t.

At first this shoe-at-the-door thing didn’t make much sense. But that was because we moved up here in July. By December, the reason became obvious: snow. Well, not just snow –  the sand and slush and salt and mud that accompany the winter months. Taking shoes off keeps everyone’s houses from being dirtied by the outside mess. This is such an ingrained habit in our Northwoods culture that, even when the weather is nice and the streets are clear, everyone still sheds their footwear when they come inside.

We each have some mud on our lives, especially this time of year.

Extra commitments, financial concerns, worry about family, renewed grief, loneliness. Some of the stuff is obvious while other parts – like the stirrings of old hurts –  stay hidden beneath the surface.

As we step into each other’s lives, wouldn’t it be cool if we would remember to first take off our “muddy shoes”? That might mean setting aside happenings from earlier in the day: a difficult circumstance, or unpleasant encounter, or hurry or stress. Maybe it means withholding judgment, extending grace, forgiving, getting out of our own perspective and choosing to enter theirs.

This holiday season we are going to have many distractions.

And we are going to step into a lot of lives.

May we remember to set aside our stress and tread gently, giving others (and ourselves) extra grace.

BTW, wouldn’t it be wonderful if this “extra grace-giving” became a habit we practiced all year long?

But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. Psalm 86:15

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

Love is patient, love is kind. 1 Corinthians 13:4