We often tell my youngest that we're not sure what she was doing when God was giving out patience, but she clearly wasn't around when He was doing so. Patience is not a trait that comes easily to most children -- and even many adults. We live in a society of immediate gratification. Advertising screams at us that we should have what we want, when we want it. We are constantly bombarded by the message that we deserve better than what we have, and we should have it now. But, sometimes, God asks us to wait. For children who are growing up in a world that values immediate gratification, waiting can seem like an impossible task. I know that standing in line for more than five minutes sends up cries of "How long is this going to take" in our family. I imagine God hears that cry often from his children, too.
Sometimes, when we ask God for something, He gives it to us right away. Sometimes, though, He makes us wait. From our point of view, the wait can seem interminable. But, God uses the wait to teach us things. It is in the waiting and the asking that we learn patience. We learn that God's plan is always better than anything we can come up with -- even if we can't see it at the time. We learn to rely only on God. These are things we can't learn if there is no wait.
If God gave us everything in our timing and not in His, we would miss out on the joy we can find in waiting on Him. Psalm 37:7 says "Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes." One of the benefits of waiting is that it forces us to be still. Do you think Paul would have written half the New Testament if God hadn't made him wait in a jail cell for several years of his life? Probably not. He would have been too busy taking the gospel to different churches. Paul's enforced stillness allowed Him to share the gospel not just with the people of his day but with the rest of us who have lived in the past 2,000 years. All because of the wait.
As you memorize this verse with your children this week, think of times when you have had to wait. Talk about those times and see if you can find positive things that came out of waiting. The next time you have to wait at a restuarant, talk with your kids about how much more you're going to appreciate the food because you had to wait for it. If your family is waiting for an answer to prayer, help your children to identify the things that God is teaching them as they wait.
The next time you're tempted to complain to God about waiting on Him, take a minute to think about whether you have learned anything during the wait. Then, instead of complaining, thank Him for all He's taught you in the wait.