Love is Patient

“Love suffers long”
-I Corinthians 13:4

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Love is patient. It’s not uncommon for my wife to ask me to be more patient. I tend to get impatient with things that don’t work right, even little things like a website password that I’m certain I wrote down correctly. I get impatient with myself when I don’t work right!

Age has some advantages. I’m not old (only 40), but one thing I have learned through the years is God’s unending patience and longsuffering. The longer I live, the more mistakes I make. The more mistakes I make, the more I get to see God’s patience with me. The more God shows love to me in my failings, the more I realize how longsuffering He is. The more I see how my sins and weaknesses do not separate me from His love, the more I am able to extend that same love to others.

Psalm 103:12 says,
“As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.”

East and west meet at one point in the universe and extend from there in opposite directions, never to meet again. That point is the cross. At the place of the cross all sins are forgiven and washed away, removed from us as far as the east is from the west. This extension of God’s forgiveness demonstrates the wideness of His longsuffering. His patience is never-ending.

God is eternally patient with us as we work things out in our lives, as we press forward to be more like Him.

To walk in character includes walking in patience. Jesus said, “By your patience possess your souls” (Luke 21:19). Our natural tendency is to be anxious about daily life, to worry about the future or be terrified by current events. But to walk in the Spirit is to walk in peace regardless of the circumstances. Patience of soul is something that must be possessed, it must be worked out. We need to learn to quiet our souls in Him and speak God’s word over our situations. As we do, we also get to grow in greater patience with those we love (and those we struggle to love).

“Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.” -1 Thessalonians 5:14

“And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient…” -II Timothy 2:24

“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” -James 5:7-8

“Love is patient” -I Cor. 13:4, NIV

*all Scriptures are NKJV unless otherwise noted

Prioritizing Joy

JoyIn my marriage, not much makes me feel better than making my wife laugh. When I say or do something that fills her with overflowing laughter, I feel a sense of satisfaction. Making her happy makes me feel like I am doing something right.

I try to bring fun and laughter to my home. Life is too short to be serious all the time. There are many problems in the world, but Jesus promises joy for his disciples (see John 15:11, John 16:16-24, John 10:10).

This weekend we took our son to the Emergency Room because he got an infection on his body. Thank God, it wasn’t a big deal and should clear up after a few days. That’s life. Still, we found plenty of time to enjoy time together as a family. I made jokes while we watched a Hallmark movie. We acted goofy with our little boy, enjoying his smile. On Sunday, we went to church and then drove about 45 minutes to our favorite Mexican restaurant and ate street tacos.

God wants us to enjoy the life He has given us. He wants to inject some joy into our family life and marriages. Ecclesiastes 9:9 (AMP) says, “Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given you under the sun…” Life is short, it passes by quickly. I just turned 40 and I’m determined to live out my days with righteousness and integrity, serving the Lord with all my heart, and enjoying the time God has given me.

Proverbs 13:7 (NKJV) says, “There is one who makes himself rich, yet has nothing; And one who makes himself poor, yet has great riches.” Ecclesiastes 9:4 (NKJV) says, “a living dog is better than a dead lion.” You may not feel like you have much, but I encourage you to make the most of what you have, enjoy who you are with and make the most of the time God has given you.

In this article by Ken Blount, Prioritizing Joy In Your Marriage, he offers some practical suggestions for injecting laughter into your daily life. He says, “Good humor stimulates wit and laughter, and it actually creates closeness and intimacy between people, while hurtful humor creates pain and emotional distance.” Use your humor to build up, not to tear down. Enjoy your spouse and your children. Enjoy your friends and the people around you. Enjoy loving God. Enjoy the beauty of His creation. Enjoy life! Prioritize joy.

For Reflection: What are some things you do to inject laughter into your marriage? Into your home? Into your daily life?

“A merry heart does good, like medicine,
But a broken spirit dries the bones.”
-Proverbs 17:22 (NKJV)

Treasures in Darkness

IMG_4985“I will give you the treasures of darkness
And hidden riches of secret places,
That you may know that I, the Lord,
Who call you by your name,
Am the God of Israel.”
-Isaiah 45:3, NKJV

If we’re not careful, we can miss the treasures found in the difficult places of our lives. The truth is, though life is wonderful, it is full of tests and trials. If we’re not careful, we may curse the darkness and miss the light. Though Jesus died to give us abundant life, the abundance of His life is experienced in the situations of real life. Real life contains disappointments, hardships and pain. The darkness can be dank and uncomfortable, but it can be the place where God is forming beauty.

Though God is our provider, we sometimes experience seasons of lack. Though we have the fellowship of the Spirit, we may endure times of loneliness. Though God has good plans for us, we sometimes pass through the wilderness of waiting.

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…” (II Corinthians 4:7-9, NKJV).

During the last couple of years, my wife and I have lived in the home of a church family and mostly in a small one-bedroom apartment. Our apartment has insufficient space for our growing family, as the Lord added Joseph to us about a year ago. We had to rent a small storage unit to clear some things out to make room for our little boy. As I’ve struggled to create space, I’ve complained. God, why did You put us in this small apartment when You knew we were going to have a baby? Yet, here in our small space, God has provided.

During this season, I’ve also struggled to learn a new job. At times, my work has left me feeling mentally drained and inadequate. It’s hardly my dream job and certainly we’re not living in our dream home. Although we’ve not experienced financial abundance, our bills are paid, credit cards paid off and we have not missed a meal. God has provided as we hope for better things.

There are treasures to be found in seasons of waiting. We may complain about the circumstances, but God is using those very circumstances to form within us something of beauty and substance, the holy character of God.

The baby is formed in the darkness of the womb. The seed settles into the dirt until the light draws forth a bountiful harvest. It was into a dark, void and formless earth that God said, “Let there be light.” In the darkness of slumber, God formed Eve for Adam. When he awoke from the blackness of sleep, he beheld the beauty. Indeed, beloved, God gives beauty for ashes.

In the night of my own waiting, I look around and see God. I see His hand on everything.

“even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.”
-Psalm 139:12, NIV

I see Him in the loyalty and support of my wife. I see Him in the faces of my family members. I see Him in the help of a friend. I see God in my son’s laughter. As I hold Joseph to my chest and he lays his head on my shoulder, I feel the faithfulness of God. I thank God for our priceless gift. What an incredible joy he has brought to our lives. As I write this sentence, he’s pulling on my shirt, just wanting to be held.

Though I struggle and complain, I can feel the weight of God’s glory as I see Him at work in my life. He makes all things beautiful in its time (Ecclesiastes 3:11). He gives us treasures in darkness. Even in darkness, He spreads His glory everywhere.

“For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (II Corinthians 4:6, NKJV).

God rarely shows up at ideal times or under ideal circumstances. He reveals Himself in the dark places of life. As we pursue goals, chase dreams and live life, may we not forget to pause and drink deep the treasure of the moment. In your times of darkness, may you see His light.

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