Tuesday, September 4, 2018
Remember, God Is Never in a Hurry
In review of James 1:4 it says, “Don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed” (The Message).
In James 2-4, James tells me not if, but when trouble comes. It is possible to profit from troubles. I shouldn’t just pretend to be happy when troubles come, but instead have a positive outlook because of what the troubles can produce in my life. I can turn hardships into times of learning. The tough times can teach me endurance. Ultimately God wants to make me mature and complete, not keep me from pain. So see my struggles as opportunities for growth and thank God for promising to be with me in rough and in good times. I can ask for his help in solving my problems or to give me the strength to endure them. Then be patient. God will not leave me alone with my problems. He will stay close and help me grown. So I shouldn’t try to squirm out of your problems.
Be patient with God and with yourself. One of life’s frustrations is that God’s timetable is rarely the same as mine. I’m often in a hurry when God isn’t. I may feel frustrated with the seemingly slow progress I’m making in life.
Remember that God is never in a hurry, but he is always on time. He will use my entire lifetime to prepare me for my role in eternity.
The Bible is filled with examples of how God uses a long process to develop character, especially in leaders. He took 80 years to prepare Moses, including 40 in the wilderness. For 14,600 days Moses kept waiting and wondering, “Is it time yet?” But God kept saying, “Not yet.”
Great souls are grown through struggles and storms and seasons of suffering. Be patient with the process. James advised, “Don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed” (James 1:4 The Message).
Don’t get discouraged. When Habakkuk became depressed because he didn’t think God was acting quickly enough, God had this to say: “These things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day!” (Habakkuk 2:3 TLB).
Remember how far I’ve come, not just how far I have to go. I may not be where I want to be, but neither am I where I used to be. God isn’t finished with me, so keep on moving forward. Even the snail reached the ark by persevering!
Although God could instantly transform me, he has chosen to develop me slowly. Jesus was deliberate in developing his disciples, just as God allowed the Israelites to take over the Promised Land “little by little” so they wouldn’t be overwhelmed (see Deuteronomy 7:22). He prefers to work in incremental steps.
Here are some reasons I’m learning about why it takes so long to change and grow up:
· I’m a slow learner. I often have to relearn a lesson 40 or 50 times to really get it. The problems keep recurring, and I think, “Not again! I’ve already learned that!” But God knows better. The history of Israel illustrates how quickly I forget the lessons God teaches me and how soon I revert to my old patterns of behavior. I need repeated exposure.
· I have a lot to unlearn. Since most of my problems — and all of my bad habits — didn’t develop overnight, it’s unrealistic to expect them go away immediately. There is no pill, prayer, or principle that will instantly undo the damage of many years. It requires the hard work of removal and replacement. The Bible calls it “taking off the old self” and “putting on the new self” (Romans 13:12; Ephesians 4:22-24; Colossians 3:7-10, 14).
· Growth is often painful and scary. There is no growth without change, there is no change without fear or loss, and there is no loss without pain. Every change involves a loss of some kind. I can fear these losses, even if my old ways were self-defeating, because, like a worn-out pair of shoes, they were at least comfortable and familiar.
· Good habits take time to develop. Remember that my character is the sum total of my habits. I can’t claim to be kind unless you are habitually kind. My habits define my character.
There is only one way to develop the habits of Christlike character: I must practice them — and that takes time! There are no instant habits. Paul urged Timothy, “Practice these things. Devote your life to them so that everyone can see your progress” (1 Timothy 4:15 GW).
God is working in the troubles, so learn from them.
What this means to me:
I shouldn’t look for the easy way out. Rather see it as an opportunity to help grow me and my character.
Troubles will come, but they are training opportunities to develop my patience, persistence and Christ-like character. Be patient, don't try to squirm out of them. God's timetable is rarely the same as mine. He is never in a hurry, but always on time. He will ultimately use my entire lifetime to prepare me for the role he has for me in eternity. Be patient with the process, and don't get discouraged. Also remember that I'm a slow learner. I have a lot to unlearn, growth and change will often be painful and scary, and lastly new habits will take time to develop. God is working through the troubles in my life to grow me, so learn from them.
This morning Father, I thank you for a wonderful weekend filled with my wife, family and my grandson. Also thank you for the reminder that you are teaching and growing me through the circumstances of my life. I should try to get out of the problems quickly, but rather see the opportunities they present to grow, train and build my character. This morning Father I ask you for your continued wisdom and guidance in my work. Help me to think clearly, make wise choices, lead and interact with others in a loving manner. These things I pray in your Son Jesus name, Amen!
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