An eighty-two year old mother called her daughter the other day and said, “I’m going to get married.”Ê
The daughter said, “You are what?”Ê
The mother replied, “I’m getting married Saturday.”Ê
“You mean this Saturday?” the daughter replied.Ê
“That’s right. This Saturday my friend and I will be married.”Ê
“Now, mother,” the daughter responded, “please wait until my visit in March. We can talk about it, and I’ll be at your wedding if that’s what you want.”Ê
“No,” the mother answered emphatically, “when you’re my age, you don’t wait. You just do it.”Ê
I guess one would say this mother lacked patience. She wasn’t going to postpone her wedding for anyone, not even her daughter.
Patience is golden, but it is an attribute lacking in many of us. That’s why I want Job to be a member of my spiritual cabinet. He’ll fit with the other three Biblical characters who are helping me grow spiritually this year. The others are:Ê
Abraham who says, “Trust God.”
Samuel who counsels, “Learn to listen to God.”Ê
Joseph who emphasizes, “Learn to forgive.”Ê
Job lived about 600 years before Jesus. Life was good to Job. He was wealthy, healthy, and had a good family. All was going fine until Satan and God got into a heated conversation about Job. “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him. He is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”Ê
“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
“Very well, then, everything is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger,” the Lord said to Satan (Job 1:8f). In a short period of time Job’s wealth was taken from him, and then he received word that his sons and daughters had perished in a tornado.Ê
Job was crushed, but he never blamed God for causing all this to happen. Rather, he responded by saying, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (1:21).Ê
Satan came back and continued the conversation with God. When God reminded Satan that Job maintained his integrity, though his possessions and family had been taken from him, Satan replied, “Skin for skin. A man will give all he has for his own life. But stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.”Ê
The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands, but you must spare his life” (2:4-6).Ê
Soon Job was afflicted with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. In his suffering, Job’s wife said to him, “Are you still hanging on to your integrity? Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9).Ê
Hearing this Job rebuked his wife, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?”Ê
Job could have expected his wife to comfort him, but no one was there to offer him any words of encouragement in an hour of pain and deep need.
Then came three friends to sympathize with Job. When they saw him, these men were filled with such sorrow, they could not speak to him for seven days. Finally, Eliphaz, one of the friends, said, “You used to tell others they should not be discouraged when difficulties came to them. Now you have been afflicted, and you sit there feeling sorry for yourself and are discouraged.
Have you ever considered why you are suffering? Suffering is a sign of God’s displeasure. It presupposes that the one suffering has done something displeasing to God. What are you hiding from us, Job? What have you done that angered God?”Ê
Job did not claim to be sinless, but he refused to admit that he had been so wicked, God was punishing him. God had permitted great evil and pain to afflict Job, but his faith was strong. At this point, Job spoke these immortals words which are quoted so often by others whose trust is in God, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.” (Job 13:15) He was telling his friends that his faith in God was not based on his emotions, which could fluctuate on any given day depending on the circumstances, but on God’s promises. I do not praise Him when he blesses me and deny Him when sorrow comes to me.
God is bigger than my emotions. God does not send the dark hours into my life; but when they come, He uses them to convince me more than ever that He is with me.Ê
You would have thought the friends would have stopped torturing Job with their arguments, but they didn’t. Job could not explain why all this had happened to him, but once again he came forth with words pointing to eternity that never die: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. After my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes Ñ I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me” (Job 19:25-27). Perhaps we will never know the answer to some of our problems, but one day, when we stand before God, all things will be revealed. Patience, Patience!Ê
Christians never cease to be amazed at how patient God is with us. How often, in rebellion, we turn our backs on God and go our own way. Why doesn’t He give up on us? That’s the big question. How apathetic we often are when God has challenged us to make His will known, but to speak offensive words to our culture would be too costly, so our silence becomes another form of denial.Ê
How then can we, who are the recipients of God’s patience, be so impatient with God when He does not respond immediately to our every request? We’re like the 82-year-old woman who wanted to get married, and was not going to wait for her daughter to come in March. God, I want it, and I want it now.
Heal my disease, convert my child, mold my spouse to think as I do that there may be peace and harmony in our home, and the list goes on and on. We become angry with God when He does not fit into our time schedule in answering our demands.Ê
What about our patience with people, especially those who are the closest to us. How difficult it is to be patient with the person whose ways irrate us. My wife describes an evening scene in our home. I arrived home at 6:00. We ate dinner, and I sat down and read the paper. At 6:45 I reminded her that we had a 7:30 meeting. If she was a few minutes late in getting ready, I said, “Hurry up. We have to go. We want to be on time.” I didn’t help with the dishes. I didn’t think about coming home a few minutes early so we would not have to rush. It used to irritate her. Now she laughs about how disgusted it made her. But I don’t laugh. I hate it when she tells this story. How unthoughtful and impatient I was. I am an inpatient person, and that’s why I need to have Job on my board of directors.