Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Not by chance

A friend just noted at Facebook that she was looking through Ben Patterson's Waiting before passing it along to one of her friends. That is a book that I, too, have given to others because I have found it very helpful myself. So I am going to take the opportunity to recommend it again here. From Amazon's description:
.... Sometimes we find our lives placed on hold. Deep questions begin to surface. How long must I wait? Is there any meaning to all this waiting? Can I trust God? We can't help but wonder what is happening—and why? In Waiting, Ben Patterson uncovers two cardinal virtues required for successful waiting—humility and hope. You will learn how humility teaches us we exist for God's sake, not for our own; and you will learn how hope assures us that there is something worth waiting for.
And from Patterson's Epilog:
Does it strike you as odd that a book on waiting has scarcely mentioned the word patience? Or perseverance? Aren't those the virtues that we are to exercise when we are forced to wait? They are, but they are secondary to what really is needed to wait with grace. More basic than patience or perseverance are humility and hope. These two are the attitudes, the visions of life, that make patience possible. Patience is a rare and lovely flower that grows only in the soil of humility and hope.

Humility makes patience possible because it shows us our proper place in the universe. God is God, we are his creatures; he is the King, we are his subjects; he is master, we are his servants. We have no demands to make, no rights to assert. I can be impatient only if I think that whatever it is I want is being withheld or delayed unfairly. As Chuck Swindoll put it, "God is not in your appointment book; you're in his." His superiority is not only in power and authority, it is in love and wisdom as well. He has the right to do whatever he wants to do, whenever he wants to do it, but he also has the love to desire what is best for all his creatures and the wisdom to know what is best. He is superior to us in every conceivable way—in power and love and wisdom. To know that is to be patient.

Hope makes patience possible because it gives us the confidence that our wait is not in vain. Hope believes that this God of love, power and wisdom is on our side. It exults in the knowledge that, in the delays of life, he knows exactly what he is doing. If he moves quickly, it is for our good; if he moves slowly, it is for our good. No matter how things look to us, God is the complete master of the situation. There is an old theological word for this—providence. The venerable Heidelberg Catechism defines God's providence as:
The Almighty and everywhere present power of God; whereby, as it were, by his hand, he upholds and governs heaven, earth, and all creatures; so that herbs and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, meat and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, yea all things come not by chance, but by his fatherly hand.
There are no accidents, no glitches with God. He does all things well. Everything that comes to us comes by his hand and through his heart. He provides for our needs and fulfills our deepest desires in the fullness of time, not a moment too late, nor a second too soon. Hope assures us that in all things, even in the delays of life, God is working for our good. To know that is to be patient. ....
It's a good book to read before you are in distress. It helps prepare you for the frustrations and hardships of life, but far more importantly, it reminds you that God is God and you are not.

Waiting: Finding Hope When God Seems Silent (Saltshaker Books)