Patient Doesn’t Mean Perfect

And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised. - Hebrews 6:15

Patient Doesn’t Mean Perfect

If you feel like you’re experiencing a bit of déjà vu – you’re not mistaken. Yes – this is the same picture from last week … but No – it’s not the same message.

I simply couldn’t get this verse out of my mind: “And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.” (Hebrews 6:15)

I’ve been asking the Lord, “What does it mean to wait patiently?” Several times this week I stumbled on other verses with the same phrase:

  • Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him. (Psalm 37:7)
  • I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. (Psalm 40:1)

Abraham was a man of great faith! In fact his unshakable trust in His Almighty God is celebrated in the “Hall of Faith” where his faith walk is described in more detail than any other person. (Hebrews 11:8-19)

But here’s my question: Abraham waited patiently? Really?

I seem to recall a little incident where Abraham and Sarah took matters into their own hands. Sarah, tired of waiting on God to keep His promise to give them a son, gave her maid to Abraham in marriage.

It’s hard to imagine anyone thought this was a good idea – but Abraham agreed to the plan – thus launching a complicated story full of heartache and difficulty.

As we view the flawed humanity of this great hero of faith, we find a partial answer to our question about patience in waiting:

“Waiting patiently” does not mean “waiting perfectly”.

What a relief! The fulfillment of divine promises was not dependent on Abraham’s perfection but on God’s! Our flaws, imperfections and failures do NOT stand in the way of God’s purposes being carried out in our lives!

But here’s one more discovery that fills my long waits with purpose:

“Waiting patiently” actually means “longsuffering” and refers to the persevering strength of Abraham’s faith to trust God as he “stayed under” the pain and pressure of trying circumstances.

I love this! No wonder waiting is so hard – it is suffering – good to know.

And not only that … it’s suffering that goes on for a very long time. Maybe that doesn’t sound like such good news to you – but I love it when my hard things are validated rather than dismissed. Waiting is not hard because I’m a wimp … it’s hard because it’s just downright, stinking hard!

So “waiting patiently” means that we “stay under” – we courageously endure the long waits – refusing to give up on God, refusing to give in to discouragement, refusing to be defeated by our unmet expectations.

And when we fail – we patiently and faithfully grab hold of God’s unchanging perfection – allowing God’s unfailing grace and unquenchable love to strengthen us in our weakness.

Lord, thank you that the foundation of divine promises is Your Holy Perfection – not mine! Help me to embrace my long waits and allow you to build courageous patience into my very soul. May I refuse discouragement and defeat and may I allow my failures and flaws to drive me deeper into Your heart of grace.

Let’s celebrate together: “Waiting patiently” does not mean “waiting perfectly”.