Michelle Lu (RISD Graphic Design '19); Shared at Fri Gathering, Mar. 2, 2018.
For this week’s devotion, I want to focus on subject of patience. Lately, there have been a lot of things that have tested me in my patience and made me feel very vulnerable. I’ve been seeking comfort in the Bible, refuge in prayer, and hope in change. And, it’s helped me look forward.
We should seek patience in prayer. While talking to God, we can give time to ourselves to evaluate and reflect on the things that we’re doing. It can be long-term, short-term, or even things that we’ve done in the past 24 hours. Individual prayer in a quiet setting has helped me smooth out some worries of things to come while group prayer reinforced that I had a community to help as well.
On prayer, I remember my pastor explaining that God does answer all prayers if we seek for answers. Of course, there’s the straightforward, “Yes,” and then there’s, “No.” But I believe there’s also a third option: “Wait.” It’s an open response—a little like a maybe—that will eventually result in either “Yes” or “No”. It’s a call for patience to dwell on our problems and seek Him to lead us to the right answer. It can span from days to weeks to years. It can be something you’re searching for your whole life. Or something, in retrospect, you realized solved itself.
As some of you may know, I’ve lived abroad before coming back to the States. For a while, I lived in Shanghai for middle school after my Dad transferred. When I was living in Shanghai, I prayed constantly, if not unconsciously, to move me away from that place. While, on the one hand, I was totally a fish out of water because I wasn’t used to international student life, I also didn’t feel like I fit in there. Although it was a Christian international school, I couldn’t have felt more alienated. Granted, middle-schoolers are quite vicious, but at certain points, it felt like it was my entire homeroom against me. God called me to wait patiently.
For sure, it was a trying time, but I managed to get through it. [I learned to wait patiently on God through times of difficult and suffering.] Now that I’m back in the States for college, I can look back and appreciate the opportunity God created for me to grow in the way that I did and to have that intercultural experience. Fundamentally I would not be who I am, if not for that experience. The period of time helped me solidify my faith in God and trust in Him through adversity.
Eventually, I found myself in Singapore, a chance to start over and rebuild, and living in Singapore revealed to me that God had a plan for me that I couldn’t yet see. You know Prince of Egypt? It’s most known for its song, “When You Believe.” But, there’s another song in there called “Through Heaven’s Eyes.” Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, explained how we are like a single thread, and could not see the beauty of a tapestry’s design unless we viewed it from Heaven’s/God’s eyes. He is a Father in heaven who loves us so much and who also knows how we fit in best.
Patience for change does come at the expense of the limited amount of time we have on Earth. But while we exchange time for an answer, we gain eternal life with Him, even after we pass away. I know we can be sure that when we look back, it’ll all make sense. Psalm 40:1 says “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.” This was written by David, a lifelong follower of Christ. Even the privileged ruler of Israel had his rough moments, but he pursued God till the end of his days.
On a final note, I want to end with Romans 8:22-25 on having hope and patience in the midst of suffering.
22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
These verses talk about the assurance we have in God’s love through Jesus’ sacrifice, and that the Holy Spirit will help us in weakness. Thanks be to God!