How to Be Hopeful without Being Impatient

We all hate to wait. We live in a culture where we want the microwave to cook faster. And often we treat our relationships like that. Let’s just cut to the chase. But that’s not how relationships work. We can do grave damage trying to take short cuts in our impatience.

I’ve learned this the hard way. Sometimes other people just need to understand how right I am! And so I tell them, in love, of course. But it never goes well; I can’t imagine why. It’s almost like the Holy Spirit doesn’t care about getting to the right answer as much as he cares about the process of getting there.

And you know what frustrates me the most, the very most frustrating thing about the Holy Spirit? He’s not in a hurry. Doesn’t he realize my relationships are on a tight schedule, here? After all, I have in my planner that this relationship was supposed to be fixed by November.

The problem is, God is on his own schedule, and he doesn’t ask for my input. Of all the nerve! He acts like he’s God or something.

It’s kind of like Gandalf tongue-in-cheek rebuking Frodo at the beginning of the first Lord of the Rings movie (The Fellowship of the Ring).

“A wizard is never late, Frodo Baggins. Neither is he early. He arrives precisely when he means to.”

God’s like that. Never late. Thank goodness. Always on-time. I can live with that. Never early. Now that’s just downright annoying!

Sometimes people have to figure things out for themselves by experience. This can be very frustrating, for example, for parents. We have all this truly great advice that can save our children a world of heartache, hurt, and bruising if they’d only listen. But I had a very wise woman tell me, “We have to let our kids live their own adventure.”

The fact is, my getting antsy and impatient is not going to speed God up. Truth be told, if anything, it might actually slow him down, because now he’s wanting to do something in me, to replace my impatience with faith. And so in his great mercy, he’s going to give me ample opportunities to practice faith over impatience, much to my consternation, and finally, if he gets his way, much to my surrender.

I’m not saying we sit back and be lazy and just wait for God to drop stuff in our lap. That’s obviously not how it works either. Clarity so often comes with action. We often have to do something, try and fail, and then try and fail again, to discover the destiny God has for us.

But I am saying this. We can take action and do stuff, but we don’t need to bring along the stress and pressure of our impatience. My stress and impatience comes when I take up responsibility for the outcome, instead of leaving it in God’s hands where it belongs. Taking responsibility for something that, deep down, we fundamentally know is out of our control is really stressful.

When we finally truly trust God for the outcome of the actions we’re taking, we can be hopeful without being impatient.

How about you? Are you more often impatient or hopeful? Tell us in the comments. And please share on social media if you think this post would be helpful to someone else.

6 replies
  1. Jane Abbate
    Jane Abbate says:

    I think sometimes about what we learn from Mark 6:38 when Jesus asked the young boy, “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus focused on the present moment, not what the boy had in the past or what he could have had. Jesus also didn’t focus on the next few minutes and what he would need to feed the next group in the crowd. It’s another way to look at waiting. If I focus on what Jesus is doing for me, in THIS moment, and not concern myself with what I’m waiting for NEXT, I have more peace.

    Reply
    • Dave Wernli
      Dave Wernli says:

      Good stuff, Jane, well said. CS Lewis said God wants us focused on eternity, and the present is where time intersects eternity.

      Reply
  2. Carol
    Carol says:

    Dave, thank you so much. This is exactly the message I needed to hear today. I was just telling a friend that I feel like I’m working into the plan God has for me, but not knowing exactly where it’s going, I often question if I’m doing the right thing or not. I’ll just have to trust that He has the answers, so maybe I don’t need to. I think I’m going to put what you said on my wall: “Clarity so often comes with action.” I just need to keep working at it and one day, in His time, it will all become clear to me.

    Reply
    • Dave Wernli
      Dave Wernli says:

      Well said, Carol! Thank you for the kind words. I love the way you put it, “I’ll just have to trust that he has all the answers, so maybe I don’t need to.” BTW, “Clarity comes with action” is a Jeff Goins quote. 🙂

      Reply
  3. Randi
    Randi says:

    This was a very important distinction:

    “We can take action and do stuff, but we don’t need to bring along the stress and pressure of our impatience. My stress and impatience comes when I take up responsibility for the outcome, instead of leaving it in God’s hands where it belongs.”

    A spiritual director told me to hold my dreams lightly as I take small actions and discern my way forward. 🙂 Otherwise, if I cling too tightly to something, I get anxious and cloud my vision/drown out what God is saying to me.

    Also, in prayer group, as a dear friend was praying over me, she said, “Step away from the ladder” — as in, don’t take that drastic step out of fear, don’t try to get over that wall yourself. Let God fight for you. That takes patience!

    Thank you for this post. 😀

    Reply
    • Dave Wernli
      Dave Wernli says:

      Thank you for the kind words, Randi! I believe in taking steps and risks, but out of purpose not out of fear. The steps are ours, the results are Gods. You really said it well, Randi.

      Reply

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