Many of the worst mistakes we make in life result from deciding we must have something now: a car, a girl, a Friday night baseball game, etc.
God does promise to give us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4). Oftentimes, though, we hold that promise back with our own impatience—by not having our will in line with God’s.
Imagine for a moment that you wanted to have a beautiful lawn. If it is the middle of November and your happiness demands that beauty spring out by December, you’re going to be disappointed no matter how much grass seed and fertilizer you throw down. God has made everything beautiful—but in its time (Ecclesiastes 3:11). If you don’t work according to God’s plan, this isn’t possible. It’s not so hard if you do things the way He has established.
Being a teenager is a little like that. Your years in high school should prepare you for your life ahead. You are in a state of preparation—and the better job you do preparing now, the easier time you will have when God’s time for the major events in your life come.
Ecclesiastes 3 tells us that there is a time to every purpose under heaven (verse 1)—no matter what it relates to. God wants you to wait for His timing in your life. When you do, everything works out beautifully.
He promises to give us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4)—but He does not promise to give them to us right now. We have to wait for His timing in events.
Let’s consider a positive example. You probably remember that the patriarch Abraham sent a servant to find a wife for his son Isaac. You can imagine Isaac would have been anxious about this. After all, Isaac was 40 years old! It must have taken great faith to recognize that God was working things out for him.
Twenty years later, at a spry 60 years of age, Isaac had his first child! The entire 12 tribes of Israel are descended from Isaac. That is one result of his faith and patience!
Accepting God’s timing in events was a primary quality of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God told Abram to go, and he went— then waited decades to have his first son. His grandson Jacob labored 14 years to marry Rachel. These were men who understood what it meant to patiently wait for God’s timing in their lives.
Because of that patience, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will “function as a topflight team, with Abraham as chairman of the team, next under Christ in the coming world government of God. Jesus Himself said, definitely, that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob shall be in that glorious and glorified kingdom (Luke 13:28)” (Herbert W. Armstrong, Mystery of the Ages).
Patience is more than just waiting. Hebrews 12:1 tells us to run our race with patience, a word that can be translated “cheerful or hopeful endurance.” We don’t just stiffen our backs, clench our teeth and wait God out. We wait cheerfully.
Ancient Israel had different priorities than God, so it almost never waited cheerfully for Him to work things out. The Israelites’ example was recorded so that we could learn from it. They saw the Egyptians plagued by God again and again. They saw the Red Sea part so they could cross; they saw the Egyptian army destroyed when it closed. They saw drinking water gush from a rock in the desert. They saw a spectacular display when God delivered the Ten Commandments.
And still, just a few days later, they built a golden calf as soon as Moses was gone. They didn’t wait for God to fulfill His promises. They couldn’t see God. They wanted a visible God like the idols of wood and stone the Egyptians had. Ultimately, none of them, except Joshua and Caleb, were able to enter the Promised Land.
Israel’s lack of patience in waiting for either God or His human leader can seem, in our minds, astounding. But do we have faith that God will work things out in our lives if we wait patiently for Him?
Here are two simple ways you can make it easier to be patient and to rely on God in your life.
1. Stay focused on long-term goals. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).
2. Remember that you can’t do anything for yourself that God can’t do better. It’s easy to think, I’ll rely on God. But do you know what the primary tool God gives you is? Your parents. When you say, I’ll rely on God, that usually means relying on your parents. When you turn to God in prayer and study, remember who the Almighty God placed over you—and that their authority is derived from Him! A parent with life experience, who has God’s Holy Spirit in him or her, won’t see the same things as important that a young person might. Most of all, remember that He gave them that authority for your benefit, just as He will give that authority to you for your children’s benefit.
Rather than trying to seize authority God hasn’t given you, embrace the time of life you are in. Relying on your parents will yield far greater blessings than trying to jump ahead into stages of life you haven’t been prepared for.
Consider God the Father’s patience. He has waited millions, perhaps billions of years, for the birth of His Family. Now, we are, comparatively speaking, microseconds away from the return of Christ and His marriage to the firstfruits.
And think of Christ’s patience. He wants a wife and has waited through 6,000 years of man’s evil rule on Earth for us. He hasn’t lost His patience. He hasn’t lost sight of His long-term goals. He stayed focused on everyone else’s well-being, on the ideal outcome for the entire universe.
Wait cheerfully on God to work things out in your life, relying on your parents during the time God has given them to prepare you for your future. And remember that no one could plan your life better than God—not even you.