This week's memory verse:
"Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up" Galatians 6:9
Ok...I admit...this was not best week for keeping up with my Bible study or for writing my messages. It really hasn't been a good month for it for me either, has it? I know that in times of trial and frustration we shouldn't give up...I don't think I gave up, I think I just didn't have the energy. Getting sick so soon after Tom's accident was unfortunate, but totally understandable. The "yuck" was going around and I was tired so it caught up to me. I started to feel guilty for not doing my messages this week, but here is a lesson for you...I learned to be PATIENT with myself and realized there is only so much I can do.
Our Bible study this week led us to read about several examples in the Bible of people who had to either use a lot of patience, or who had to LEARN to develop and use patience in their lives. In some of those examples, the people went through some horrible experiences! I have heard some say that when you have bad things happen in your life it must be punishment for something bad you have done. That sounds crazy to me, but there are those that believe that. I truly believe in my heart that our loving God doesn't work that way. I think that God uses things that happen in our lives, good AND bad, to teach us lessons, such as how to wait and have patience.
I don't think we become spiritually mature overnight. I think the way we respond to situations in our lives determines our maturity. And that maturity happens in a process. Suffering produces perseverance (we get THROUGH a situation); perseverance over time produces character (our moral quality--how we respond); and good character, based on God's promises produces hope (the way we view the future and future sufferings or struggles.)
Have you heard of the Serenity prayer?
"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can;and wisdom to know the difference."
I believe this is the absolute KEY to learning patience...and when you learn to do this...show me how because I struggle with this every day! I think I spend so much of my time worrying and stressing over things that I have no control over. And, because I can't change it, the negative way I respond to it zaps my patience level in many areas of my life.
I have a friend who is truly in a difficult situation...one of those child custody things...YUCK! My friend gets so upset about the system, (that he has no control over AT ALL!) that he is so deeply troubled almost all the time. He is letting his frustration cloud is attitude about life in general. He has little patience with anything difficult at this point. I worry that this friend, who is basically a pretty happy-go-lucky kind of person, is heading toward becoming one of those negative "the world sucks" kinds of people who no one wants to be around. I am no expert on this topic at all, but I try to get him to see that since he can't change it, he might as well make the best of it and be the best dad he can be with the time he has with his child. THAT he can change...how he responds...having the patience to work THROUGH this difficult situation without letting it devour him is the key. The problem is...here is the tricky part for me...he doesn't have God in his life right now. For me, I can't imagine being able to do that difficult thing without God! Because I respect people's feelings about God, I don't push the idea of God handling problems on people are not ready to hear it. I think my friend NEEDS the HOPE, love and reassurance that relying on God gives you...but he has to come to that realization on his own. I share my feelings with him on the topic, but stop before I feel I have gone to far.
The thing is...we ALL have those kinds of situations that happen in our lives every day, don't we? Opportunities to show patience with doctors, coworkers, people on the street, clerks at Walmart, with our children, with our spouses...sometimes they are as simple as getting upset when your daughter doesn't do the dishes...and sometimes they ARE as complicated as a custody battle.
I can be pretty patient sometimes...but I know that God's not finished working in me yet! Do you know how I know that? Ask me how I handle my daughter not doing the dishes...ask me how I react when she brings home a bad grade...ask me how I berate myself when I gain a few pounds instead of taking them off... Oh, I have a LONG way to go, believe me! And you know what...I'm glad! I WANT the opportunities to learn more about life...I WANT God to work in me and I WANT the opportunity to share my lessons learned with others. Our earthly lives are so short! Sure, it has taken me 42 YEARS to learn the value of patience...but I LOVE the fact that I will have ETERNITY to enjoy the benefits of those lessons!
Father God, thank you for loving even the most impatient of your children. My prayer today is that all those reading this message today will be able to be more patient at home, at work, with friends and in every other place. I know that as we focus more on patience, you will grow that virtue in us. Amen