The Sin of Impatience

"No-one wants acorns, but everyone wants oaks." ~ Steve Fowler

"The greatest temptation of our time is impatience, in its full, original meaning: refusal to wait, undergo, suffer.” ~ Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy

For my yearly read-thru the Bible I choose to go the "chronological" route this time. Thank you

As you can imagine, it's difficult to read the Bible in chronological order without beginning in the book of Genisis. As I've been re-reading some of the incredible early stories of our faith, I have been drawn to a common theme throughout the entire 50 chapters of Genesis that is still as prevalent today as it was then...

The "sin of impatience". Or the more modern wording, "I want it now".

Because none of us want to recognize impatience as a sin right?

John Piper puts it this way, "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."

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 sin 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, raise this child, or stay in this marriage, or live this life. That's one way the 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 hasty or impulsive or reckless. What we're waiting for is really important. It can't wait. Lives are at stake. Dreams will be lost. I'll never get another chance.

Ge 16:1-2 Abraham and Sarah who did not wait for God to give them the son he had promised
Ge 25:30 Esau’s impatience cost him his birthright
Nu 20:9-11 Moses Israel
1Sa 13:6-12 Saul made the offering without waiting for Samuel
2Sa 13:2 Amnon with his half-sister, Tamar
Lk 15:2 The younger son could not wait for his inheritance

This list could go on, and on, and on, and on...

The sin of impatience reveals our desire to be in control by desiring others to conform to our expectations. If that is true, then the events in our lives are not necessarily the things that cause impatience, they are just the means by which the sin of control is manifested in our lives.

Ok, so how do I deal with my impatience?

First, we can deal with the sin of impatience by praying the Lord would convict us and empower us to rid this sin from our lives. A simple prayer is not enough to do the trick though. It's about recognizing you have jumped ahead of God. And by doing so you tried playing god.
In addition, when we sense ourselves growing impatient, we should remind ourselves, as Paul did Timothy, that in saving us God exercised His patience toward us (1 Timothy 1:16). If God, the Ruler of the universe, can exercise patience towards us while we were rebelling against Him, then we can exercise patience toward someone or something that is not running on our schedule.
Lastly, we need to remind ourselves that God is the one who is in control. The circumstances that occur in our lives are brought about and are used by Him to teach us and grow us, even the ones that might give us opportunity to become impatient.
Is it easy? Nope. But I know from experience that every time I jumped ahead of God there has been a 100% failure rate. Those few times I have waited on God, I have always got what I needed, when I needed it, at just the right time.


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