I’d like to think I’m a patient person, but when it comes to answered prayer, I’m not. Perhaps patience would be easier for me if I focused more on the patience of God. The Bible says He is not slow to fulfill His promises, but is instead patient. He does not want anyone to perish but all to repent of sin and trust Him. For most, that means gentle persuasion and waiting for responses.
I cannot push that either. All I know is that one day Jesus will return, unexpected like a thief. The heavens will pass away and the stars will burn up. The earth and all that everyone has ever done will be exposed. Instead of being impatient, I should “wait for and hasten the coming of the day of God” and anticipate “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” doing my best to patiently live a godly life. (2 Peter 3:9–13)
Impatience breeds unbelief, or perhaps unbelief brings on impatience. Either way, my creative imagination tries to come up with ways to make life better, to answer my own prayers, to try and do the work that only God can do, and with that self-effort, I lose the power of the Holy Spirit in my life. thankfully, God offers a cure for such foolishness.
You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (2 Peter 3:17–18)
Grace is the opposite of self-effort, impatience, God-playing. Growing in grace happens because God makes it happen. It only happens to those regenerated by the Holy Spirit. This glorifies God for it is all of God. I cannot renew my life nor make myself grow in grace. I can put myself in places where it might happen (worship, Bible study, prayer, obedience), but it a God-thing, never a me-thing.
Before God gave me new life in Christ, my spirit was “dead in trespasses and sin” and unable to reflect the life of my Creator. The giving of new life is God’s prerogative. Only He can regenerate a sinful soul. This happens by the same power that caused light to shine out of darkness and that can raise dead bodies to life.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Again, new life is not my doing. God’s power is exerted without any consideration of merit in the creature. I didn’t deserve new life and I do not earn or deserve His blessing on the new life that I have now. He gives it out of love and that is why it is called grace.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4–7)
After years of seeing the immeasurable riches of His grace, my patience should be easier now, but we live in such an impatient world. Every problem is solved in 30-60 minutes or in 300 or so pages. Happy endings may not make the news, but everyone still wants everything to work out for good and prayers answered quickly.
But God’s timing is not the same as mine. I don’t know when or if some of my hopes will be realized. I do know that one day Jesus will return. The earth will melt and be renewed. My life will be free of temptation and sin. Instead of fighting my spiritual enemy and struggling to be holy, I will be filled with God’s goodness. I cannot ‘make’ that happen before His timing no more than I could make my salvation happen. This is the work of God and I need to be more patient, trusting Him because He knows what He is doing and because His patience with me is far greater than mine with Him. I have no place or even any good reasons be pushy with God.