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Foundation Truth, Number 16 (Winter 2007) | Timeless Truths Publications

Impatience: The Blessing Stealer

I was sitting in the car waiting for my sister. The motor hummed and all was still and peaceful. Two minutes ticked by. She had heard I was ready to leave, hadn’t she? She must have gotten distracted with something, like usual. Didn’t she care that I was waiting? I had a strong temptation to honk the horn. I stopped myself. Why should I be in such a rush to leave? We weren’t under any time pressure (which, I ruefully told myself, shouldn’t justify impatience, anyways). I could wait ten more minutes, if need be, couldn’t I? I turned off the motor. Impatience was seeking to steal my peace, so why give in to it? (The up-front honesty of a child appeals to me. It would do us all good to ask ourselves a few more “why’s?” don’t you think?)

We all know the story of Jacob and Esau and the “stolen blessing.” In our minds we envision the scene—the fur-clad Jacob, aided by a conniving mother, tricks the aged Isaac into giving him Esau’s blessing. In spite of ourselves, we sympathize with the robbed older brother as he discovers his loss. We hear the anguish in Esau’s tones as he bitterly complains to his father: “Is not he rightly named Jacob? For he hath supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright; and, behold, now he hath taken away my blessing.”* (Genesis 27:36) But before we join the pity-party, let us consider for a moment the time and place Esau first lost out. He was hungry and faint when cunning Jacob made him that hard bargain. It was either the savory pottage or his birthright. Feeling “at the point to die,”* (Genesis 25:32) Esau chose the immediate gratification. The far-more-valuable birthright was despised in that moment of impatience, but the loss was recognized too late. Such is the state of the impatient heart.

Like Esau, do we not often yield to the current pressures, only to discover later that it means the loss of our promised blessing? Through the precious blood of Jesus, every child of God has been given a spiritual birthright of peace (Romans 8:6; 14:17). How precious the experience of a clear conscience and a soul at rest! But, if not jealously guarded and valued, it surely can be stolen from us. How can we guard this priceless treasure? By placing extreme value on it.

Esau didn’t have to lose his birthright or his blessing. The key word was “despised.” He let something else take precedence. He valued something else a little more than his birthright, and was deceived into thinking it wouldn’t matter. Was a hot meal such a little thing? Yes, and “thus Esau despised his birthright.”* (Genesis 25:34) Dare we not take a lesson from his mistake? Oh, let us put a higher value on what God has gone to such lengths to give us! We must not allow even such a “small thing” as impatience (though it be our closest kin) to rob us.

Like Jacob of old, impatience is a deceptive “supplanter” or robber. Don’t you find it easy to justify hasty moves and snappy remarks with “I couldn’t help it,” or “I just wasn’t thinking”? We expect things to happen right now, on our time schedule. So we honk the horn because someone is too slow. Or we demand and scold because others aren’t appreciating our “slave labor” and joining the frantic rush to get too much done in too little time. Wait a moment! Stop and think! What is all your hurried madness amounting to? No blessing. No peace. No joy. You are robbed. Oh, but it is hard to admit such a thing! Our excuses scream loudly that it is the other person’s fault because—why? Because we expected more. They should have known I wanted that done right away. They could tell I was busy. They haven’t been doing anything! Where is the love that “suffereth long, and is kind”* (1 Corinthians 13:4)? Where is the peace “not as the world giveth”* (John 14:27)? By pride and selfishness (no, it wasn’t God that told you to push and scold to make that good impression or to accomplish that “good deed for His kingdom”) impatience has rooted itself deep. Shall we lose the blessing of God by stupidly valuing accomplishment, present comforts, or praise of men a bit too much? Oh, let us deny the ways of the flesh and quiet ourselves before God!

Through Jesus Christ we can do all things (Philippians 4:13). He came to deliver us from all our foes—including impatience. It may be that we need to do less. It may be we need to change our priorities. It may be that we need to stop shouting and start listening. I have found that a great deal of impatience with others results from not truly communicating. When was the last time you sat down and discussed your needs and desires in a calm and nonthreatening manner? How long has it been since you stopped to really listen and care about them? The rush out the door could be alleviated through giving yourself more margin in your day—not scheduling yourself so tightly. You may need more unplanned time to allow slower people to be valued and appreciated for who God designed them to be. And most of all, get your eyes off of the immediate and ask for a greater vision of the eternal.

Perhaps your problem is not so much concerning others, but within yourself. I used to be able to handle this better. I hate feeling weak and unable to do things for myself. Why can’t I think straight… get this done faster… not be such a tightwad (or spendthrift)… or —? The link is so close to us that this sort of impatience may seem impossible to dispel, not to mention being often garbed as a “virtue.” I shouldn’t be lazy and not care, should I? No. But did the Lord intend that I would grow in His graces by beating myself over the head? Contrarily, I read: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart…. Be not wise in your own eyes,” “Delight thyself also in the LORD…. Commit thy way unto the LORD, trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass.”* (Proverbs 3:5,7; Psalm 37:4-5) We need a lot more confidence in God and lot less leaning to ourselves. Is it hard to yield up your will and rid your heart of it’s impatience? God has a work to do in your life that will fulfill the blessed promise: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee.”* (Isaiah 26:3) We must not forget that God’s work is done as we wait on Him. Our skillful enemy will surely devise a way to snatch the quiet moments and fill all our waiting times with boiling impatience, if we give him an inch. Let us surrender our wills to God, that His peace may fill each moment of our days. Let us value the still moments as we ought!

You don’t have to let impatience steal your blessing. God has a better way. If He has given you peace and soul-rest, keep your values straight. Stop despising your birthright! Set your affections above and disregard the current pressures and demands. Determine, by God’s grace, to order your life according to what really matters. Invest in heavenly treasures and you will find God’s security system is quite robber-proof.