Faith and Patience


By Jill Briscoe

Job, as someone has put it, was in God’s waiting room. There is nothing quite as difficult as waiting. When we are in the middle of some particularly difficult situation, time appears to stand still. Our problem is exacerbated by our Western lifestyle and mindset, which often reflect our “instant” society. In America, it seems we cannot bear to wait for anything. What is more, we regard instant service and gratification almost as rights.

Not long ago, I found myself in a tough place. As I hunkered down to wait my situation out, I couldn’t help searching the Scriptures for glimpses of hope it would all soon be over. I realized I was on a journey–the journey to “soon.” I couldn’t help but notice how often that little word soon kept popping up in my Bible readings. I remember complaining petulantly to the Lord, “Not ‘soon’–‘now.’”  I didn’t like being on the way to “soon” one little bit!

Waiting is not my favorite thing to do, especially when I’ve waited for something extremely important–a child to be conceived, a teenager to give just one little hint he likes belonging to me, a relative to come to Christ. But nobody knows how quickly “soon” will be except God, and He doesn’t tell! His knowledge is withheld not to tease us but to test us! Waiting for closure always exposes the caliber of my faith, the intensity of my patience and trust, and the shape of my character. But when I’m waiting for some particular, painful trial to be over, there’s bound to be some bright, well-meaning saint who lovingly, and often with ill-concealed satisfaction, comes around to tell me how much deeper I’ll be when it is finished. I want to scream, “I don’t want to be deeper! I want to stay shallow and have the hurt go away!” Perhaps you are on that journey today.

Job had said, “When he has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (Job 23:10). Job knew he was in God’s waiting room. That’s what that little word when means; it points to sometime in the future. When is not now. Yet on this journey to “soon,” we find something is happening to us.  We are being “golded.” There’s nothing like the fires of affliction to put a gold glow on our souls–on our character.

Warren Wiersbe says, “God never wastes suffering. Trials work for us, not against us. God permits trials, that He might build character into our lives!” Paul puts it very well in Romans 5:3-5: “We know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Knowing God is intent on painting us with gold helps a little when you are “on the your way to soon.”

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