Is there real Patience or Faithfulness?
If you can, think about the last 10 years of your life or try to imagine your life 10 years into the future. For me, that seems so far away! Much too far away to remember that long ago in the past and much too distant to even get an idea where life will take me in 10 years to come. Then I think of someone like Joseph in the Bible and what 10 years was to him. Joseph, was sold into slavery by his own brothers for 10 years. Let me say that again. 10 YEARS! A Slave! Sold by his OWN BROTHERS! If we are going to talk about someone with great patience and someone who was faithful, look no further than to Joseph and his remarkable story.
To be betrayed by your own flesh and blood and forced into starting over as a 17 year-old slave must have been terrifying. For someone that loved and trusted in God, that had to be spiritually crippling. Just imagine putting yourself into his position. Honestly, I don’t really want to because there’s no guarantee at all that I would have demonstrated even half the amount of faithfulness and patience he did. But yet, this was a man who faithfully served Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh and captain of the Egyptian guard. He was a man who patiently and faithfully rose in ranks and earned the trust of Potiphar to the point where he was made an overseer of his house, and had everything and everyone under his authority besides Potiphar and his wife. He was a man who was honorable and stood firm against the scathing attempts of seduction from Potiphar’s wife who greatly desired Joseph. He chose to not abuse his power granted to him and honor God in his decision to refrain. Surely his faithfulness would be rewarded! No. Instead, he was rewarded with accusations from Potiphar’s wife and cast into prison. 10 years of his life following the betrayal of his brothers, faithfully and patiently trusting in God’s Will went straight down the drain. If being sold into slavery wasn’t bad enough, 10 years of building a strong and honorable reputation from literally rock bottom all went to waste in the blink of an eye now as well. Yet, even in prison, the Lord was with Joseph as he faithfully and honorably served. Once again, Joseph was patient and faithful, gaining the trust of his master, the prison warden, and was put in charge of all the other prisoners. He was patient for two more years in prison when the chief cup-bearer forgot all about his promise to mention Joseph when he was restored of his position serving Pharaoh. Finally, after years and years of faithfulness and patience, Joseph was brought unto Pharaoh and was made the 2nd most powerful man in all of Egypt. Joseph was marked as a man of great wisdom and eventually went on to save the entire region (including his family) from starvation during a terrible 7 year famine. A story of faithfulness and patience nonetheless. God surely blessed him and those around him for it.
There was no time stamp on his Patience and faithfulness. There was no expectation of time Joseph would be forced to wait as a slave or wait as a prisoner. But today, that’s so often how we treat patience and faithfulness. We say, “God, I’m going to give you until Friday to give me a solution to my problem. But after that, I’m going to take things into my own hands and do it my way.” We say, “God, I really want this prayer answered, so I’m going to be faithful this week and read my Bible every day so that you give it to me.” That’s not patience! That’s not faithfulness! That’s tolerance. That deadline you give God is not a period of time where you are patient. It’s the amount of time you are willing to tolerate not getting what you want. There’s no time stamp you can put on patience! That’s fake fruit! It’s not faithfulness to read God’s word as a way to “butter up” God’s favor towards your desires. That’s fake fruit! That’s microwaving the will of God. You set the time to cook it and simply wait for the timer to end. But that’s not how patience works. There is no set time limit. It runs on God’s time. It should be no surprise that when you microwave the will of God, it comes out unfulfilled. It comes out as your own raw, uncooked will. Unfortunately, far too many people do become surprised when they do that and use it against God as a supporter of their doubt. Because God didn’t bow down to your terms, you use it as permission to indulge in fleshly desires. It leads to abandoning the Will of God and chasing after things unhealthy and unclean; things that are dishonoring to God.
Is there patience while you look every way for satisfaction right now rather than patiently waiting for a more sustainable solution to your problems? Is there patience in your never ending search for instant gratification? No. You seek any form of pleasure that is within reach with no regard to the harvest that is reaped through patience. Financial burdens? “No problem, Ill just sell by body for some quick cash.” Feeling lonely? “The internet has me covered.” Stressed? “Lets get wasted and forget all of our problems.” There is no patience in those things, just sinful instinctual reactions. Lack in patience to do things as God would rather you do is a lack of faith that God’s plan is better than yours. The only faith you have is in your own path and thinking. Patiently seek out God-honoring ways to help you with your financial problems and patiently listen for his direction. Patiently and relentlessly fight to overcome the temptation to temporarily satisfy your sexual desires and wait for God to reveal to you someone to have a more fulfilling relationship with in marriage. Patiently lean on Christ through your times of great worry and stress, that he may empower you to overcome that which is causing you trouble. Joseph didn’t cook up his own Will and indulge in unfulfillment. He didn’t decide that he had earned permission to commit adultery with Potiphar’s wife. He didn’t regard his cruel and unfair circumstances as reason to wallow in self pity and regret. He didn’t know when the harvest was, but he waited for it. He waited for the meal God was cooking up for him on His timing. That’s real patience! That’s real Faithfulness! Not knowing when God will act or deliver, but willing to wait and do what he knows God would want him to do step by step at a time. Ditch the microwave. Ditch the fast food. Wait on God for the wholesome meal he is cooking up for you and faithfully do what has spelled out for you to do.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. – Galatians 6:9