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  • Carley Marcouillier

Just You Wait

Definition: “Patience” -Grk: (Long-Passion), divine regulation, steadfast, long-suffering.

Last week I quickly flipped open my devotional preparing to be met with some encouraging words to walk into my day yet as my eyes scanned the pages of the text, my reading was stopped by these following words:

True patience is expressed when we must even wait for hope.

When we see no hint of success yet we refuse to despair, when we see nothing but darkness of night through our window yet keep the shutters open because stars may appear the sky, and when we have an empty place in our hearts yet will not allow it to be filled with anything but God’s best- That is the greatest kind of patience in the universe”(Streams in the Desert, 1997).

My eyes suddenly filled with tears as I personalized the weighted words on the small print page.

I have felt the discouragement of despair, I have questioned God’s promises and I have at times filled my heart with less than God’s best.

In studying this outpouring of the Holy Spirit, I have come to wrestle with the obvious question of what practices produce this divine regulation of my spirit. How can God change my weary and anxious heart that frequently refuses to wait with patient endurance?

Patience, as seen today, is often contrasted with impatience, restlessness, anxiety, or anger. These reactionary emotions often flood our sense of logic when we are placed in a position of wait. In other terms, patience is defined as, “one’s capacity to accept or withstand delay, trouble, or suffering without a negative reaction.”

In counseling terms, this increased ability to withstand adversity is acquired through what we call distress tolerance skills. These skills assist an individual in coping with crisis, reducing reactions to such events, and maintaining mindfulness amid strong emotions.

Here is what I am learning about patience... it takes practice.

For we, in ourselves, have a limited capacity to accept and withstand the delays, discouragement, and despair this world throws at us. Within this frame, we can see how the Holy Spirit invites us to access a deeper capacity to withstand the stress and struggles of life. Not through avoiding such instances but pressing into the promises of what waiting will bring to those who, as Jesus put it, “patiently endure”.

Galatians 6:9 says, “ And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap if we do not give up.”

This passage proceeds Paul’s exhortation of you reap what you sow. In verse 8, he states, “Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

Here we see the first practice of patience:

1. Submission to the Spirit

As we have learned in the past few weeks, each of these fruit mentioned in Galatians 5 are direct outpourings of the Holy Spirit’s work within us. As we seek to surrender our wills to God, in waiting or want, we are learning to surrender our plans, developing “divine-regulation” of our hearts and wills.

Does this mean we will never experience impatience? I wish.

Rather I am beginning to see each frazzled and frustrated moment as an opportunity to surrender my stubbornness and seek to sow seeds of the Spirit.

What does this look like practically?

Distress Tolerance Skill #1: Radical Acceptance

In short, this skill assumes that when a problem is out of our control, we react with resistance to what we cannot change, even though our response often makes the pain worse. By using radical acceptance, one learns to reduce the resistance by accepting and acknowledging the difficulty that cannot be controlled.

From a Christian integration standpoint, this skill can remind us to acknowledge what is out of our control and place it in God’s hands. By this cognitive act of surrender, we release our spirit and calm our conscious by placing our trust in our all-knowing and all-powerful Father.

Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done. Luke 22:42

2. Seek Sanctification

Paul writes about the impact of patience in the life of believers throughout scripture challenging us to see our earthly suffering as vital in sanctification process::

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:6-7).

We see this again in Romans 5:3-5, “ Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."

I am sure our initial reactions to suffering are not to “rejoice” yet these passages assist us in developing the patience that produces character, the steadfastness which develops our faith and fortifies our hope in heaven.

What does this look like practically?

Distress Tolerance Skill #2: Reframing (our thoughts)

Ever heard of the term reframing? Well, as you may imagine the purpose of “reframing” our frustration is to simply see it differently. By doing so, we can view our given situations with more patience and acceptance.

I always go back to scripture as my main source for truth. When we find ourselves in seasons of suffering, we can often feel frustrated, wondering if God even sees us. This is feeling-focused thinking.

So, in response, I want to acknowledge my feelings and then focus on what truth teaches me about them.

Because Truth trains our thoughts to think upward instead of inward.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. The things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 cor 4:16-18)

3. Press into God’s Promises

In addition to submitting to the Spirit and seeking our sanctification through struggles, the production of patience is sown by pressing into God’s promises.

For when our fears and failures, frustrations and feelings find purpose in God’s promises, we can find the faith to press on.

2 Peter reminds us that, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

And 1 Kings 8:56 reminds us of God’s unchanging character saying, “Blessed be the Lord who has given rest to his people Israel, according to all that he promised. Not one word has failed of all his good promise, which he spoke by Moses his servant.”

What does God Promise?

James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”

And Philippians 3:20-21 states the ultimate promise of our destination when Paul writes:

Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it, we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”

What does this look like practically?

Distress Tolerance Skill #3: Mindfulness

Mindfulness practice is simply bringing awareness to the present. This intentional pause allows us to bring our awareness back to the promises and the purposes of God thus reducing the impatience of what must be planned.

I often use this technique when I notice my impatience rise with any unscheduled surprise. By closing my eyes, saying a prayer, and breathing deeply, I realign my focus on what is important rather than what is my preference.

It's easy to be impatient in the unknowns, the not knows, and no's yet we can remember that our promise is eternal rather than external.

One author describes this challenge by saying we often are looking for heaven on earth and becoming discouraged when earth looks nothing like heaven.

Let’s keep our eyes on the prize for which God has called us heavenward!

4. Always Go back to God’s Grace

“The person who knows how to wait has grown to an exceptional degree in God’s grace.” These words challenge my soul to wait well, knowing my Father is graciously good to those who trust in Him.

Psalm 37:6-9 says,

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.

He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him."

Isaiah 40: 28-29 says,

Have you not known? Have you not heard?

The Lord is the everlasting God,

the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He does not faint or grow weary;

his understanding is unsearchable

He gives power to the faint,

and to him who has no might, he increases strength.

What grace God gives those who wait."

I know for me personally, waiting on the Lord in various areas in my life has deepened my awareness of God’s sustainment and sufficiency to be my strength. This development of perseverance challenges our souls to seek the source of our strength.

When impatience is present, go back to God’s grace-

For it is in Him we find our strength!

What does this look like practically?

Distress Tolerance Skill #4: Relaxation

When waiting makes us weary we need to make rest a priority. By intentionally relaxing our minds, our bodies, and our souls, we not only release toxins and balance our emotional state, but we also view rest as a gift of God’s grace.

scripture says that those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength and that God is a refuge, a safe place for our weary souls.

What does this look like for you friend? Are you daily resting in the freedom of the Gospel? Are you renewing your mind with reading God’s word?

I want to rest in the reminders of God's goodness and take hold of a deeper strength for my spirit. My prayer is that we would begin to practice patience and experience a deeper capacity to withstand discouragement and despair.

Keep practicing friend, patience has an eternal purpose. Just you wait!