Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret – it leads only to evil.
For those who are evil will be destroyed,
but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.
– Psalm 37:7-9
Through the ups and downs of the past few weeks, I have learnt a valuable lesson on patience. Actually, my Mum was the one who taught me this lesson, although she probably doesn’t know it.
As a family, we’ve been through some dessert lands lately, with health issues and job rejections and uncertain futures; it’s been a frustrating time. My Mum has been applying for jobs since April, and has had only rejections with the reasoning that she doesn’t have any experience. Having lived in Germany for 12 years, teaching English to German kids, it would seem that this is a stupid reasoning and that the people who told her this need their heads examined (that’s meant in a nice way, obviously). But then, something amazing happened.
In another tired attempt with little hope of any success, she sent off an application for a job she’d found as ESL teacher (English as a Second Language) for a summer course for three weeks. Against all her expectations, she got the interview – and the job. The school was also looking for someone permanent to start in September, so she had to go through the whole interviewing process again. She thought she wouldn’t get the permanent job and had prepared herself mentally for the rejection. Another rejection would probably have blown away her confidence completely, and left her wondering what she was meant to be doing.
Yes, she got the job, and it’s a job that is so perfectly suited for her that I can’t think of any other reason than an amazing God who cares and protects those who love Him. Now she is an English teacher at an International school; she can use her creativity and her experience as well as her personality to make a difference.
I look at the way things have fallen into place for her, and it makes sense that patience pays off. It makes sense that living a life as a Christian means quietly trusting and knowing that God is at work in our lives, most especially when we can’t see it.
But I also have to remember that He doesn’t have to come to our rescue. We are sinners unworthy of His help. He has made promises that He will not break, but when we think that He is not there when He should be, we need to rethink our whole understanding of Christianity. Sometimes, things just don’t work out, for whatever reason. Sometimes, bad things happen and bad things stay bad. God isn’t there at our beck and call, and He is under no obligation to fulfil what we ask of Him.
He is however a God of great love and mercy. Even if we don’t get what we ask of Him, He will bless us if we walk in His ways. In Psalm 55:22 it is written, “Cast your cares on the LORD and He will sustain you, He will never let the righteous fall.” Who are the righteous? Technically, no one, only Jesus. But if our hearts are sincere and our attitudes that of doing our best to please the One who created us (this article may be of interest), then we can count on the Lord’s strength to overcome the weaknesses that dwell within us.
With this in mind, we can consider ourselves stronger and more precious than anything in this world. I mess up again and again, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. Realising that I am a sinner can (and should) be a humbling experience. But the challenge is to overcome the guilt and the pain by accepting God’s grace and mercy, and standing in His forgiveness. Perhaps it’s a mindset more than an action. It’s knowing that I cannot change the fact that I am a sinner, but the fact that this troubles me is pleasing to God – we can only humble ourselves when we realise that there is a need to become humble in the first place.
Being patient means looking to God and seeking Him with a sincere heart. It requires self-discipline and self-motivation. It requires a desire to be nearer to Him that is stronger than any other desire we have ever had or will ever have for anything. It means being willing to give up our highest expectations in life and letting go of our biggest dreams. It means kneeling down and finding treasures in what we thought were the cold, dark rocks of the earth.
Being patient will pay off, make us more gentle and more humble, and more willing to praise Him in everything we do. That’s where I want to be, as I learn more and more about my own sinfulness, every day.
And I am so grateful for His amazing mercy.