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The Awful Patient Ways of God

Ruth Bell Graham

Genesis 12:2, 4 Isaac is promised to the childless couple, Abraham and Sarah (Abraham is then seventy-five years old).

After ten years Abraham grows impatient and takes Hagar,

Sarahís maid (a custom permitted in those days), and has a son, Ishmael (Genesis 16). Abraham was one hundred when Godís promise was finally fulfilled (Genesis 21:3, 5), and Isaac was born.

Joseph, falsely accused by Potipharís wife, had been imprisoned. After Joseph correctly interpreted the dreams of the butler and the baker, the butler promised to remember Joseph when he was restored. But he forgot.

Many never live to see their prayers answered.

"And it came to pass at the end of two full years..." he remembered and Joseph was freed.

"And it came to pass in process of time (Exodus 2:23) that Pharaoh died and the children of Israel sighed, cried, and groaned  ...by reason of the bondage. And God heard. [and] remembered. (and] had respect unto them."

Yet it was forty years before He sent Moses back to lead them out. (Compare Acts 7:23 with Exodus 7:7.)

Samuel anointed David king when David was but a boy Samuel 16:13). But it was not for ten or fifteen years that he was finally crowned (II Samuel 2). Note Davidís behavior during those years.

God drafted Jeremiah to prophesy judgment and the destruction of Jerusalem in the thirteenth year of Josiahís reign. But it was forty years and three months before Jerusalem was finally destroyed.

Jesus, at twelve years of age, stayed behind in the Temple, both asking and answering questions. When found by His parents and reproached, He replied, "Wist ye not that I must be about my Fatherís business?"  But He returned with them to Nazareth  "and was subject unto them."  It was eighteen years before He began His public ministry.

"And therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you. . . He will be very gracious."  ISAIAH 30:18 19

"Are we prepared to take the awful patient ways of God, we must not be infected by the worldís valuation of either speed or success." JOHN B. PHILLIPS

"Wait on the Lord."  Or as the Prayer Book version translates it, "0, tarry thou the Lordís leisure." PSALM 27:14. And He is so leisurely sometimes!

"I waited patiently for the Lord."  PSALM 40:1

And, comments George Mathison, "...that is the grandest patience in the universe."