Our church is currently going through a sermon series related to “superheroes” of the bible, and the powers they possess. This week’s central theme was Abraham’s “superpower” of patience. Obviously patience isn’t a typical superpower like time travel or flying, but if you think about it, possessing it perfectly and in all situations is nearly impossible. I’ve tried it! And this message resonated with me so much for the fact that patience is ever top of mind for an adoptive family in “the wait” and I thought I would explore the idea a little bit further for this post using some notes from our pastor’s message.
(Full disclosure: even with the best laid plans, we are most generally late arriving to the early service at church on Sunday, and though Cora does try her hardest to be a big girl during the service, I still do a lot of entertaining her while we are there. Fortunately, I can catch up on anything I’ve missed in the message via our church’s website and recordings. Typically, my own notes taken while I’m listening live are pretty brief!)
I’ll begin by saying that waiting is just TOUGH. It doesn’t matter who or what we wait on, or even how we wait trying to pass the time, we can probably all agree that it’s not our favorite. As a couple, Justin and I experienced a long season of wait starting about three and a half years before Cora was born as we simultaneously navigated infertility and adoption with a home renovation. Talk about tough! Fortunately we made it through and came out stronger in our marriage on the other side. Now in the wait to adopt again, our lovely girl helps us to pass the time, but impatience is still in our vocabulary. Knowing the goodness God had in store for us while waiting for Cora to come along creates an amplified feeling of impatience, as we now desire and wait to meet a brave expectant mother. I would imagine sometimes that mother also feels impatient, as she prays to meet a family she feels is the right fit for her child.
Our pastor’s message reminded me of the unpacking we have to often do with our impatience. It is indeed a human weakness we have to question whether or not God will grant us the desires of our heart. For many of us, this means we sometimes like to take matters into our own hands, as our culture today promotes instant (or at least quicker) gratification. And for some situations, we might be successful at getting what we want. However, I’ve learned that when I do this, it steers the trajectory I’m on towards something that really doesn’t look like God being in control.
Getting back to the story of Abraham, in the bible we learn that God had made a covenant with Abraham and it included three promises: land, a nation of descendants, and blessings and redemption. Of course, Abraham and his wife Sarah did not have children when the covenant was made, and so the promise God was making for them to have descendants probably seemed more impossible the longer they waited. Ultimately, they waited 24 years from God’s promise to the birth of their son, Isaac (enter patience).
Pastor Brian’s message further alluded to God allowing situations that require patience because it helps us grow as individuals. These difficult circumstances are not used by him to be trivial, although they are tests to reveal us to ourselves. There are many things I’ve experienced recently that in hindsight I have understood deeply what God was doing in order to mold my character and make me better. It doesn’t mean that we always like to admit that we learned something and are grateful for the experience! (Sidenote: I believe anything less than two-day shipping for online purchases falls outside the scope of the whole patience lesson. Just had to get that off my chest!)
So, how do we attain this superpower of patience? There are three things we must do: 1) recognize that patience comes from the Holy Spirit, 2) have joy when faith is tested, and 3) always hope in God’s promises.
Finding joy is so important! At the beginning of Sunday’s service, our good friend and worship leader pointed out that we don’t always understand the goodness that God has prepared for our lives. This reminds me of having tunnel vision about something that I want to happen, and not seeing the big picture. As Psalm 34:8 goes, we are asked to “taste and see that the Lord is good” but sometimes it is a “wait and see” command. There are likely doors we keep trying to walk through that he is closing for our good. And in the meantime, if we look around a bit, we will find there’s plenty to enjoy for right now.
Speaking of taste and see, the final take-away I have from my notes on the message is the third part of God’s promise to Abraham, which is blessings and redemption. Yes, sometimes patience is incredibly difficult to attain, especially if we cannot see any progress down the path on which we’re traveling. However the thing we are blessed to not need patience for is the knowledge of salvation, as God’s promise for a savior has already been revealed to us in Christ. This covenant is still going strong today, and we are free to have joy in that while we are waiting for anything.
Pastor Brian left us with a final quote: “Patience is not simply waiting…it’s trusting God to work in us and through us and around us during the wait.” After all, aren’t the things we are most thankful for in life, the things most worth waiting for?