Read Psalm 46:1-11
Slow—But Never Late
Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.
Patience is a virtue that defines us as Christian. Patience was one of the character qualities of Christ, and therefore one that we, too, are called to exercise. Paul spoke of it as one of nine fruits in his list of the fruit of the Spirit.
And perhaps of those nine, patience is the most difficult to cultivate in our lives. Arguably, it is more difficult than love, joy, peace, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control (well, maybe not self-control). We are easily irritated with people; we get frustrated with ourselves; we fret over circumstances; we are especially impatient with God.
Phillips Brooks, a nineteenth century New England preacher, was well known for his poise and quiet manner, but at times, suffered moments of frustration and irritability. One day he was feverishly pacing the floor like a caged lion, and someone asked him, “What’s the trouble, Mr. Brooks?”
He said, “The trouble is that I’m in a hurry, but God isn’t!”
Perhaps that’s the greatest frustration of all! We don’t like God’s timing! We get irritated with his slowness! We think he should do things the way we want, when we want!
When I was a kid, there was an old saint in our church who was fond of saying, “God may be slow, but he’s never late.” That bit of old country wit was not only sound theology, it was sage advice!
God’s plans for you, his purposes for the people in your life, his timing in your circumstances, and his design for bringing about justice and vindication in the world around you are in his control—not yours, nor mine. And though frustrating at times, we truly ought to be thankful for that, since we have been spared from the very judgment we long to be poured out on this rotten old world.
This psalm speaks of that time when God will intervene in this world to defend his honor and vindicate his people. But until then, we are called to practice patience—with our circumstances, and with God’s timing. We are to be still, trust that God is God, and in due time, he will make the way things ought to be clear to the whole world.
Until then, practicing patience in the daily ordinariness of our lives is really a matter of trust and obedience. And if for no other reason, we ought to develop it since our impatience won’t hurry God’s timing one second.
“There are three indispensable requirements for a missionary:
1. Patience 2. Patience 3. Patience.”