When the sentence for a crime is not speedily executed, the hearts of men become fully set on doing evil.—Eccl 8:11
Have you ever ignored a nagging sense of conviction in your heart? Maybe you rationalized wrongdoing with the thought that if God were really upset, He’d put a stop to things by disciplining you. Psalm 50:21 reminds us that the silence of heaven does not mean approval. Remaining in sin is an abuse of the Lord’s patience.
When God seems slow to react, we might hope He’s overlooking our transgressions—we’d like to continue in sin because the momentary pleasure is more appealing than obedience. But thankfully, the Father knows our weaknesses, our innate carnality, and the state of our spiritual growth, and He therefore measures His response. Motivated by love and a desire to gently restore His children to righteousness, God refrains from instantly doling out punishment. Instead, He waits for the Holy Spirit’s prodding to impact the believer’s heart. The weight of conviction is actually an invitation to turn from wrongdoing and return to godliness.
However, we’re a stubborn people. There are times when we persist in sin because the sentence against an evil deed isn’t executed quickly (Eccl. 8:11). In this dangerous situation, it’s possible to immerse ourselves in sin and harden our heart against the Lord. Then the Holy Spirit’s call to repentance falls on spiritual ears rapidly going deaf.
As we learn and understand more about God and His ways, we are increasingly responsible to live righteously. Our heavenly Father is not slow; He’s patient. But don’t abuse that patience with callous disregard for His statutes. Repent and be holy in the sight of the Lord.
Those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength—Isa. 40:31
Do you desire God’s best for your life? Unfortunately, many people miss out on blessings because they are unwilling to wait for His timing. Scripture encourages believers to be patient.
Your patience is refined when you are going through difficult times, when you’re frustrated with the waiting and tempted to act outside of God’s will. Always seek His wisdom, and follow the instruction you receive. Remember that “those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength” (Isa. 40:31).
Incline Your ear, O LORD, and answer me; For I am afflicted and needy.—Psalm 86:1
When life is moving along smoothly, it’s easy to say, “God answers prayer.” But a crisis can bring doubt, especially if the Lord is not responding as quickly as we might like. That’s when we may be tempted to bargain with God as if He could be manipulated into acting on our behalf. However, the goal of prayer is not to get God to do what we want but to bring our concerns to Him, trusting that He will answer in His own way and time.
Waiting on the Lord is fairly easy when we’re not facing anything urgent. But difficulties and suffering tend to make us impatient. We may even begin to find fault with God, thinking that if He truly loved us, He would intervene and bring relief.
As we seek the Lord for help, David’s prayers in the Psalms provide wonderful patterns for us to follow. He faced many dire situations and continued to turn to God. He recounts God’s character—gracious, good, ready to forgive, and abundant in lovingkindness to all who call on Him. These characteristics are the basis for trust.
Knowing who God is enables us to trust Him through the crises of life. Because He is faithful, we know that He will keep His promises. His holiness causes us to examine our life and repent of any sins that are hindering our prayers. And His mercy, grace, and love give us the comfort we need to endure hardship.
In a race, how you begin is not as important as how you finish. And this same principle is also true to a large degree in the spiritual realm. That’s why the writer of Hebrews reminds us to “lay aside every encumbrance” that hinders us in the race set before us. A believer’s lifetime is not a sprint but a marathon walk with Christ, and our goal should be the same as Paul’s—to fight the good fight, finish the course, and keep the faith.
It’s easy to get caught up in the pursuits and pleasures of this life and forget that we have a higher goal. Once we cross the finish line and see Christ face-to-face, everything else will fade in comparison. So let’s run with endurance the race set before us.