We are living in an age where patience, like the ice in both poles of our Planet Earth is steadily melting away. Obviously it’s not because of global warming but of spiritual lukewarmness in the hearts of men. Jesus Christ in Revelation 3:16 condemns the Laodecian (People’s) Church because of this very attitude or spirit of lukewarmness.
Thus he declares: “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth”. The Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 3: 2 and 4 describes of the kind of people that can be expected to be seen in the last days as “…men who shall be lovers of their own selves and lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God”.
The prophet Hosea 4:2 describes it in this wise, “By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood”. Reaching such an horrific state as never before, where Jesus in Mathew 24:12 warns: “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold”, and “that only those who shall endure to the very end, shall be saved” (verse 12).
That brings us to this all too important word, ‘patience’.
Children, students and adults alike, as in no other time ever known in human history, quit too easily on their schooling, education, jobs, careers, relationships, marriages, sports, positions and status, while in most cases they have no genuine reason for giving up.
There are certain situations in life that we can rightly quit in order to move on to better things, places, opportunities, privileges and so forth. But there are also certain ones that we are better off, safer and wiser to hold onto, than risk losing a lifetime chance or blessing.
There are some which are absolutely meant not to ever be broken or severed as their ultimate prize and reward only comes at the end of the whole process or race. The lyrics of a hymn describe it like this: “The longer I serve him, the sweeter he grows, the more that I love him, more love he bestows, each day’s like heaven, my heart overflows – the longer I serve him, the sweeter he grows’.
Christian marriage and Godly and Christ-centered relationships always get better and sweeter by the day. Many of the longest-surviving businesses, individuals and married couples can testify of their success and longevity as based not so much on the smooth, but on the rough patches and challenges throughout their life journeys.
No-one is ever at his or her best until they have gone through all the different levels, dimensions, spheres and stages of a whole life’s experience. One of my favorite writers and authors, Oswald Chambers in his devotional My Utmost for His Highest, describes a saint’s life in the hands of God as being like a bow and arrow in the hands of an archer. God is aiming at something the saint cannot see, and He stretches and strains, and every now and again the saint says: “I cannot stand any more”.
God does not heed, He goes on stretching till His purpose is in sight, then He lets fly. We must trust ourselves in the hands of God. Patience is the springboard to endurance and perseverance. We need to maintain our relationship to Jesus Christ by patience of faith.
Job, a Bible hero and a champion of patience, teaches us a lesson or two in Chapter 13:15: “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him…” and in Chapter 23: 10, “But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold”.
His personal conviction of faith and his reply to the sarcastic remarks from his own wife are famous: “Dost thou still retain thine integrity? Curse God, and die”. Job replies. “Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips”.
In chapter 1:20 – 22, he is recorded as having one of the most powerful testimonies of faith, patience, submission, obedience and conviction. Whether he is to live or die, God is still enthroned Sovereign Lord of all. “Then Job rose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, and said, ‘Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly’.”
This week I watched on TV One’s world news a story about 104-year-old Professor David Goodall of Australia who boarded a flight to Switzerland where he was legally allowed to end his own life, of his own personal freewill and choice through euthanasia or “mercy killing”.
With his mind clear enough to make such a sad and drastic choice, he probably could have had the strength and stamina to go beyond 104 and perhaps live like Joshua who lived to 110 or Moses who died at 120.
Jesus Christ who only lived to 33, met his most brutal challenge upon the cross, for the remission of sins and salvation for all mankind. He could have turned to take a detour but ventured on further, “…for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). Had he chosen to save his own life, denying the will of God as sacrifice for the sins of mankind, we would still be in our sins, all doomed to eternal death, hell and damnation, with no way out at all.
The real meaning of eternal life is a life that can face anything it has to face without wavering, without shortcuts and with a mind already set on the beholder, creator and giver of life.
Is anyone reading this at an intersection or crossroads right now, totally oblivious of the decision or choice to make? Just pause a moment, and say or whisper a little prayer: “Lord Jesus, please help me clear my mind and path to life, give me wisdom to make the wisest of all choices, knowledge to follow the right path, patience to wait on You for the right answer and faith to believe that You will never fail me. In your name Jesus Christ I pray, Amen!”
James 1: 2 – 6 gives us these final words of encouragement: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed”.
Patience in waiting on God bring perfect results.
Have a blessed Jesus weekend, play safe and stay safe, Amen!
Bishop Tutai Pere.