SUMMARY: If I resist God’s process and instead demand that God operate on my schedule, my impatience will rob me of thankfulness. Instead, thank God for His PROCESS and let His PROCESS increase your perseverance and patience.
(This series of writings, “The Enemies of Thankfulness,” was prompted by listening to an excellent sermon from Dr. John MacArthur entitled “Thanks, No Matter What” on 1 Thessalonians 5:18. The sermon was from 1995, I believe.)
“in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thess. 5:18
Because I know that I am not as thankful as I should be, I have made a commitment to try to be thankful more often and to have vital, deep thanksgiving become a regular part of my prayers and my conversations. To help me in this endeavor, I am in the process of writing a series of blogs about what I call “the enemies of thankfulness,” prompted by John MacArthur’s excellent teaching on 1 Thessalonians 5:18 about the Christian’s responsibility to be thankful at all times and in all circumstances. One reason that Christian’s struggle with being thankful is that there are enemies to our thankfulness in our fallen world. So far in this series I have talked about the enemies of DOUBT, SELFISHNESS, WORLDLINESS and A CRITICAL SPIRIT. This blog will address the fifth and final enemy of thankfulness, the problem of IMPATIENCE.
There are two broad categories of impatience. The first category includes those things that make us spontaneously act impatiently, like traffic lights that don’t change fast enough or fast food lines that move too slowly. I am sure that you could add your own personal list of stimuli that cause you to act impatiently, things that are basically minor irritants. These irritants are trivial in the big scheme of things, but God places them in our lives to teach us patience.
There is a second category of impatience, however, which runs much deeper and wider than a mere irritation and is much more difficult to root out and vanquish. This is the profound form of impatience that at its core is a frustration with God’s process of change or of answering my prayers. The key word is PROCESS. God works through process, ordaining not only all things that come to pass, but also the timing of all that comes to pass.
We are rebels and thus we want immediate solutions to our problems. We tend to demand things from God, and one of the things we often want is an immediate end to our problems. God’s process tries our patience. The believer should realize that the process is just as important as the end, because both can produce a greater holiness. Rather than railing against the process, let the process produce in you perseverance.
It is the nature of our indwelling “flesh” to desire to be in control of both the outcomes and the timing. Even after we have been saved, our flesh cries out for control. The believer must, therefore, SUBMIT to God daily and TRUST the Lord as an act of the will. Trust God in the process.
Suffering and waiting are the instruments in God’s process which He uses to teach us perseverance. In our natural state, we are all impatient, but when God saves us, He places His Spirit inside us and gives us both the desire and the ability to increase our patience. Therefore in the midst of suffering and waiting, I should focus on the Lord Jesus and realize that He waited and He suffered perfectly (Hebrews 5:8) and He has given me an example that I should follow in His steps (1 Peter 2:21ff).
BIBLICAL EXAMPLES OF PATIENCE OR IMPATIENCE: Job, David (fleeing from Saul), Joseph, Abraham
APPLICATION: DEEPEN YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY. TRUST GOD COMPLETELY. You are a creature and have a very finite perspective on how God’s process is unfolding. As a human being, you also cannot see the end that God has in mind. God is in complete control of every process and has already determined every outcome. In God’s infinitely complex order of things there are no unknowns. He is master of all things and His timing is perfect for His intended outcome.
ACCEPT THE FACT THAT YOUR DESIRED OUTCOME IS NOT NECESSARILY GOD’S DETERMINED OUTCOME.
ACCEPT THE FACT THAT YOUR TIMING IS NOT NECESSARILY GOD’S TIMING.
ALLOW THE TESTING PROCESS TO INCREASE YOUR PATIENCE AND TO INCREASE YOUR THANKFULNESS. In the midst of the deepest trial, give thanks to the Lord for His abundant goodness and praise Him for all He has done. (RMB 6/8/2015)
(For a slightly fuller treatment of this subject, see the separate page on this WordPress site called “God’s Process and Our Patience.”)