Oh, how easy it is to become impatient as I get older. My feet tap more.
Maybe it’s a lack of sufficient sleep. Or maybe I’m just more aware that time is slipping through my fingertips, and I want to make the most of every moment. Now I see why senior citizens get so grumpy when things don’t happen right away!
In the middle of exasperation, it’s not easy to manufacture patience. Patience is only a byproduct anyway. The real antidote for impatience is trust—having faith that God will work things out in His timing.
My sweet friend and fabulous author LeAnne Blackmore has written a book called Obscure No More, a collection of “Life-Shaping Lessons from the Often Overlooked” characters in the Old Testament.*I highly recommend using it as a personal or group Bible study.
In her discussion about King Jehoshaphat of Judah (2 Chronicles 17), LeAnne lays out four steps for coping with fear—how Jehoshaphat responded when faced with an imminent invasion. These steps are just as useful, though, when dealing with impatience:
1) Seek the Lord.Jehoshaphat went first to God in prayer before doing anything, even when enemy nations were breathing down his neck. So, when impatience strikes, our knee-jerk reaction should be to pray. God hears our requests, big and small. Of course, our prayers need to be for a heart change, not patience.
2) Stand before the Lord.This means standing still. Not moving. Not manipulating the situation. Not shifting the grocery cart back and forth to find the shortest line. It means waiting on God to respond. It means equipping ourselves to face the challenge, as Jehoshaphat did with his army, but holding back from the impulse to do things on our own. There are some battles only God can fight. We have to wait for Him.
3) Sing to the Lord.Jehoshaphat put his singers (and priests) in front ofhis army. The invading armies would hear praises to God before they saw any soldiers. More importantly, God would hear praises being sung to Him. When we can sing a familiar song of praise to God in the middle of intense irritation, it has an immensely calming effect. Praise defuses anxiety.
4) See the salvation of the Lord. Jehoshaphat and his people saw the reward for trusting God—He destroyed all of the invaders and left the spoils behind to be collected. No more fear here. When we look for how His hands provide for us—in the past and still today—we have no excuse for impatience. Remembrance builds the foundation for trust. Our faith is strengthened as we remind ourselves of what we have seen in the past and how He will keep His promises for the future.
Are you dealing with impatience or irritability? Seek, stand, sing, and see, as King Jehoshaphat did. Let’s get started right away! I’m impatiently eager to see God at work here in my heart!
Heavenly and Patient Father, One who continues to show us Your mercy instead of judgment for our sins—thank You for Your example of patience with us. Please help us remember today that our capability for patience will increase as we fully trust in You and Your plans for us. Take our feet off the accelerators, and help us to put on the brakes with cheerfulness. Slow us down to breathe and rest in Your sovereignty. We seek Your face, stand in Your presence, sing praise to You, and wait patiently to see how You will do everything well, for Your own glory! In Jesus’ name, Amen.