Do you consider yourself to be a patient person?    When I became a follower of Jesus, the Holy Spirit revealed that area of my life could use improvement.  Ok, Ok, I needed a complete overhaul, but you have to start somewhere, right?     Unfortunately when growing up, patience was not one of my outstanding virtues.  Most of us are well conditioned to the “microwave mentality” in that we want everything, and we want it right now, or better still, yesterday.  God can teach us patience the easy way, or the hard way kicking and screaming, and the choice is ours, not His. 
    We are on this earth for what, maybe eighty or a hundred years at best?  On the other hand, God has eternity, maybe even longer.  That means He can take however long it takes to help us learn something, but we are finite creatures, that is, we have a time limit to get things done.  When it comes to patience, most people could use some help, myself included.  So we say, Lord, help me become a patient person, right now!  And you know, our loving heavenly Father is quick to accommodate us.  After all, He wants us to learn to be like Him, no matter how long it takes.  We tend to forget that God has a bit of a head start on us in the patience department.
    If we start today and go on through all eternity striving to be patient, we will never catch up with Him.  So our first lesson is usually going to the grocery store, and we pick the shortest line because we’re in a hurry, right?  The checker will usually have to get at least two or three price checks while we “patiently” wait, and then when we finally get our turn to check out, the cash register tape will run out, and the checker will have to go for another roll of tape while we wait some more.  And then drop the new roll on the floor while trying to put it in the register.  Ever wonder how far that roll could unwind across the floor?  Today you will find out.  And then, of course, the time involved in rolling it all back up again and getting it installed in the register.  While all the time you are “cheerfully waiting”, and noticing at least twenty people have passed through the OTHER lines while you’ve been stuck in this one.  Ah, then the Holy Spirit reminds you what is written in James 1:3-4, Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.  But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.   Yeah, yeah, Lord, OK, I get it…. And so, wanting to be a good student of the Gospel, you grit your teeth and force a smile.  Then out in the parking lot, there is a person stopped behind your car, chatting away with someone while you’re sitting there (patiently of course) wanting to back out, obviously unaware of the fact that you’d like to leave.  Patience, Grasshopper.  Then you’re finally on your way out of the parking lot, in the longest line you ever saw at a traffic light.  Hey, traffic light, I’m here now, you can change anytime TODAY!!!  Are we patient yet??  Sometimes I think God must be laughing so hard He’s about to fall off His throne watching us.  But we wanted to learn to be patient, right?  Oh, why did I ever ask for that??

   Sometimes learning to be patient is no laughing matter, though.  I know people who need healing in their body who have done everything they know of to hurry the process along, and still, the waiting never seems to be over.  Others are sowing into God’s Kingdom, hoping for a breakthrough in their finances, and having done so for a long time, have not yet seen any light at the end of the tunnel, unless it has been a freight train coming at them.  Some have family problems they’ve been praying about seemingly forever, and still no answer.  What to do?
   Actually, the answer is quite clear in the Bible.  We endure till we win.  How long does that take?  Till we win.  There comes a point in everyone’s life that they stop “keeping score” and focus on the end game.  I reached mine several years ago, and no, I don’t like waiting any more than you do, but I read the back of the Book, and it says those who endure to the end shall be saved.  So I stopped saying “How long, O Lord?” and just went on about my business, knowing full well, when the LORD says it’s over, then it’s over, and not until then.  Sure, I can praise and worship and thank God along the way, and I truly believe it hurries up the process somewhat, but I find that God has our times in His hand, and though I think I know what’s best for me, truly only He knows, and He is working toward what we need in an eternal sense, and not so much toward our temporal comfort.
   Am I saying God is not concerned for the “here and now” that we live with daily?  Oh no, not at all.  Our ways are, “I believe in the hereafter, and I’m here after all I can get.”  The LORD is focused on our “hereafter” so much more than we are, shaping us, teaching us, equipping us for eternity, where we will exist forever, and this life is the only training we will ever have to prepare us for eternity.  Have you ever spent much time wondering what you will be doing in eternity?  I have.  Used to be, I thought we’d all be sitting on some stupid cloud playing harps forever, because that’s what I’d heard as a kid.  How boring!  But considering the alternative, hey, I’ll take harp lessons and not complain. But as I’ve walked with the Lord, I find He actually does have something in mind for us here on this earth, and that is, to be a mirror image of His Son, the Lord Jesus.  Why?  So people who see us who claim to be His, will see Jesus when they look at us.  Is Jesus longsuffering and patient?  Or would He stand in line at the grocery store grumbling and complaining to everyone around about how long the line is?  Would he gripe at the checkout clerk when He finally gets to the front of the line?  Or would He smile and ask the clerk if he or she is having a good day, and really care?  Would He encourage the clerk and bless them?  We both know the answer to that one, so why don’t we just do what Jesus would do, and be a blessing.
   After all, we who belong to Jesus have something the others don’t, and that is all eternity to be lavished with the love of God as we dwell in His presence.  And do you know something?  How you act when your patience is tried may make the difference between the person in front or behind you in line ever becomes a Christian, or not.  I’d really hate for someone to miss out on knowing Jesus because they saw me have a “Why me @#$!?” fit.  So, “How long, O LORD?” can no longer be my motto, but rather, “How can I show them Jesus?”