Hope in the Lord is like the coming of spring, the change we want usually happens gradually, not with a snap of the fingers.
This means we need to be patient. We need to be faithful. Just because things aren’t going as we think they should, doesn’t mean that God isn’t working. It doesn’t mean that a great outcome isn’t on the horizon.
Being patient with others is one of my greatest challenges. I’ve listed here some scriptures I’ve found that help!
- You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! . . . Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? (Romans 2:1,4)
- But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example. (I Tim 1:16)
- . . . he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (II Peter 3:9)
- Think of our Lord’s patience as facilitating salvation. (II P 3:15 ISV)
Prayer is like yoga — we focus on a part of ourselves that needs to be stretched. With yoga it is the muscles. With prayer, it is our ability to love, and have faith.
Whereas before I might acknowledge weaknesses and move on, now I see that I can address them in prayer. I can focus on them, wrestle with them, and allow the Spirit to give me insight into ways to grow.
Grace is like our IV — constantly giving us life, constantly sustaining us. We’re not sustained by our own efforts, the execution of our intricate schemes for success. No, at some point we realize that our righteous acts are as filthy rags, that unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. (Is 64:6, Ps 127:1) We realize that we are actually objects of God’s wrath, his enemies even. (Romans 1:18, 5:10)
But here is the coolest thing: GRACE REIGNS!! “. . . just as sin reigned in death, so also grace will reign through righteousness.” (Rom 5:21) Not only does God’s kingdom increase, as I wrote recently, but we live in an age of the immeasurable positive outpouring of divine favor. It’s grace that keeps our heart beating. Grace provides what we need every day. Grace answers our prayers. Graces provides our blessings. Grace works out our future to be more than we could ask or imagine. Every good and perfect gift is from above. (James 1:17) “God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.” (Rom 5:5)
Because grace reigns, we are not being treated as our sins deserve. God doesn’t love us conditionally. We get to be right with God and go to heaven in spite of our failings and shortcomings. Instead of being objects of God’s wrath, we are objects of His mercy, vessels made to contain the overabundant riches of His compassion. (Rom 9:23)
With grace running through our lives, it is like sap that will most surely lead to a bursting forth of beautiful blooms at the right time.
All of this means that growth is occurring. It just may not be on my timetable. My heart is stretching and maturing. Those I am praying for are progressing on their spiritual journeys. The foundations are being built for the changes I would like to see.
Life seems to be chaos, but God’s thread of victory is always weaving it together. The shortcomings are not the reality. The world fails. We fall. But as Richard Rohr wrote, “If you can find grace or freedom in and through that falling, you find that it moves you forward, upward, broader, deeper, better—to growth.”