Patience is a wonderful thing. Patience is a virtue. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit… that seems to escape my grasp more easily than most any other thing. Despite my best efforts to become a more patient person, I oftentimes find myself looking at my watch, growling under my breath at delays, wondering why no one else seems to care about being punctual, longing for the package to arrive in the mail, or anxiously awaiting the results of the test. I find myself being impatient with other people.
And I find myself becoming impatient with God.
As I have reflected on the sermon from Sunday I keep circling back to a statement I once heard at a conference. The statement was: between the promise and the payoff there is always a process. I am not sure this is always true when humans test my patience. From an earthly perspective some people are just lazy, inconsiderate, selfish, or unconcerned with moving things forward at a reasonable pace. Their “delays” are not intentional and are not designed to ultimately benefit me. However, when we are speaking of God I think the process is absolutely intentional and is preparing me to receive the promised payoff.
U2 made Psalm 40 very popular back in the early 80’s. However, long before Bono got a hold of it, the Psalmist was telling us something very important about the nature of God. The Psalmist wrote:
 I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry.  He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.  He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.  Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie!
— Psalm 40:1-4 ESV
David believed God had made him a promise… that he would deliver him. The psalmist is testifying that the Lord has answered his prayer for deliverance… but it was after a long wait. As a result, the Psalmist has a new song of praise for the God of his salvation. We have to believe that he intends for his praise to encourage others to renew their confidence in God. Why is this important? Because God made a promise to the Psalmist that He was a faithful God. God has also promised us that He is faithful and will deliver us. The Psalmist apparently went through a season of rebellion or refinement that landed him in a “pit of destruction” and a “miry bog.” He cried out to God… but had to wait for the deliverance.
Perhaps the best thing we can do when impatience begins to creep in is to remember. Remember the times in our past when God pulled through on His promises. Remember the times when it seemed all hope was gone and God had run out of time only to realize that God is not limited by our perceptions of what is and what isn’t possible. Remember that God made us a promise that may not be fully realized in this life but will in fact be fully realized in eternity. Maybe the best antidote to our impatience is to remember.
If we are able to remember His promises… and His faithfulness to His promises, it will give us the ability to wait patiently for the payoff. When we remember He is using the process to ultimately conform us into the image of the Son, it might just cause us, like the Psalmist, to sing a new song of praise for His presence in our crisis and His faithfulness in our waiting.
For those of us who are in Christ… may we wait well.
For those who do not know Him… may you cry out to Him in your distress and trust the promise:
For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
— Romans 10:13 ESV