I suppose my previous post gave a quick overview of some of the major areas of my life at the moment. However I did notice that I didn’t say much on how the idea of “patience” has been impacting my life. As I have already alluded to in my previous post, things have been a lot more of a struggle in my life, and whilst I have been anxious in many areas where there has been struggles, I feel compelled and reminded by God’s Word to wait upon him and be patient.
Over the past year and a half, many things have not gone my way: church with regards to leadership and ministry; work with regards to managers and future employment; and friends with regards to how I wanted to grow the relationships and be a godly witness to them. And as with any situation where things may not go the way you had wanted it to, a Christian would probably ask themselves questions like these:
- What went wrong? (Did other people or I do something wrong? Or were there things that went wrong which were outside our control?)
- What is God’s will in the situation? What would He want to happen? What does the Bible say about the situation?
- Is there a way to reconcile the differences between what I want and what other people want (versus what God wants)?
In many of these scenarios, I pondered and reflected a lot over God’s Word to evaluate what the right thing to do in those situations should’ve been, and then tested myself as to whether I was living in accordance with God’s Word. Often times I was faced with the frustration whereby God’s Word convicted me that I was mostly doing the right thing (with a few minor things that I could improve on) but then being challenged back by others that I was doing the wrong thing. That is, you think you’re right; you test yourself with the Bible and it convicts you that you are indeed right (apart from minor things to improve on); and yet somehow people still try to make you out to be wrong. The worst of the confusion is when it was other “Christians” who tried to make me out as wrong (generally without Scripture backing up their claims).
Much of me was very anxious in wanting to seek the truth out, for myself and for the person I was debating against (to see whether I needed to change, or if I needed to help the other person realize the truth). In the end many of these discussions (which often turned into arguments) didn’t result in anything fruitful – the truth was not discovered and relationships were damaged even more. Perhaps I was too anxious in seeking the truth out that I took matters into my own timing, and not given regard to the other person’s timing, nor to God’s timing. I started thinking to myself that if I took a step back to be more patient and allowed God to act on His timing instead, then things would work out better for everyone. Instead of struggling with what I wanted and when I wanted it, I would be more passive and let God determine “what” and “when”.
But on the other hand I do feel restless at times because to some degree we as Christians do know “what” God wants and “when” He wants it – we have the Bible to work out God’s will and I for one do not want to fall into a trap of feigning like I don’t know what God’s will is, He has revealed it clearly through Jesus Christ in the Bible. In the bigger picture of things Jesus wants people to repent and believe in Him (what), and He wants it now (when) because the kingdom of God is at hand (Mark 1:15). Of course, as I personally try to preach the gospel to Christians and non-Christians alike, I need to utilise the wisdom God gives me to know how to lovingly do so for different people.
It has been painful for me to watch friends wander away from Jesus, despite how much I pleaded dearly with them to consider what the Bible said and whether it was the truth (to them) or not. It has been consistently frustrating seeing my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ struggle in their faith whilst having an idea of the negative influences that were affecting them. And yet as I tried to do what was right, nothing was coming together and everything was falling apart. Many good things seemed futile to try and do.
Not having (God give you) your way does not necessarily mean you are wrong: those who have wandered from Jesus back into sin most certainly had their way, but the truth of the Bible reveals that they will be shown to be wrong when Jesus returns. My frustration could be easily summarised as “not seeing good and righteousness come to fruition”. In a world tainted by sin, the right actions will not always result in good consequences, even though it was the right thing to do. As I come to witness these losing battles, I am reminded to not lean on my own strength and wisdom but on God’s perfection and his timing – to be patient on him.
For the time being, my streaks of losing battles have heavily discouraged me. I still walk firmly as a Christian because no amount of discouragement can separate the Christian from God (Romans 8:39) and I live in confidence of that. However, being patient is causing me to become more “reactive” and less “proactive“. Instead of proactively acting out God’s will and trying to uphold truth as I’ve done in previous years, I’m tempted to be more patient and reactive to what God does first for the situation at hand. Perhaps this is not a good thing as I am less inclined to make the most of every opportunity that comes my way (Ephesians 5:16). But out of my fear of doing the wrong thing (from these recent experiences) I am more inclined to be passive as I keep reflecting on God’s Word and growing myself.
Though there are so many things I would like to change around me for the good of more than just myself, my efforts have frustrated time and time again. I know this doesn’t mean God doesn’t want me to pursue these good things; though it might mean that now is not the right time. As such I’m compelled to be patient to see what plans God has in store for me and the situations I’m involved in.
Please note that this is not me stating that I’ve had some massive personality change and that suddenly I’m living in a completely different way as a Christian – none of the core of who you’ve known me to be has changed. It is just to say that in these recent times, your prayers will be much more encouraging to me now than ever before. And I too will remain prayerful that my hope and patience in God for the coming weeks, months, or even years, will be fruitful for the present and for the future glory that awaits us all (Romans 2:7).
I’ll end with my favourite verse that I keep going back to in times where my spirit is shaken:
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)