Scripture: Isaiah 30:1-5
Impatience is a form of unbelief. It’s what we begin to feel when we start to doubt the wisdom of God’s timing or the goodness of his guidance. It springs up in our hearts when the road to success gets muddy or strewn with boulders or blocked by some fallen tree. The battle with impatience can be a little skirmish over a long wait in a checkout lane. Or it can be a major combat over a handicap or disease or circumstance that knocks out half your dreams.
The opposite of impatience is not a glib, superficial denial of frustration. The opposite of impatience is a deepening, ripening, peaceful willingness either to wait for God where you are in the place of obedience, or to persevere at the pace he allows on the road of obedience—to wait in his place, or to go at his pace.
When the way you planned to run your day, or the way you planned to live your life is cut off or slowed down, the unbelief of impatience tempts you in two directions, depending partly on your personality partly on circumstances:
1) On the one side, it tempts you to give up, bail out. If there’s going to be frustration and opposition and difficulty, then I’ll just forget it. I won’t keep this job, or take this challenge, rear this child, or stay in this marriage, or live this life. That’s one way the unbelief of impatience tempts you. Give up.
2) On the other side, impatience tempts you to make rash counter moves against the obstacles in your way. It tempts you to be impetuous or hasty or impulsive or reckless. If you don’t turn your car around and go home, you rush into some ill-advised detour to try to beat the system.
Whichever way you have to battle impatience, the main point today is that it’s a battle against unbelief and therefore it’s not merely a personality issue. It’s the issue of whether you live by faith and whether you inherit the promises of eternal life. Listen to these verses to sense how vital this battle is:
- Luke 21:19—”By your endurance [patience] you will gain your lives.”
- Romans 2:7—”To those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor
- and immortality, God will give eternal life.”
- Hebrews 6:12—”Do not be sluggish but imitators of those who through faith and
- patience inherit the promises.”
Patience in doing the will of God is not an optional virtue in the Christian life. And the reason it’s not is because faith is not an optional virtue. Patience in well-doing is the fruit of faith. And impatience is the fruit of unbelief. And so the battle against impatience is a battle against unbelief. And so the chief weapon is the Word of God, especially his promises.