We are living in an age of “instant” insanity. Everyone knows about instant coffee, instant oatmeal, instant replay, and instant messaging. Have you heard about instant buttons? If you lose a button all you have to do is take an instant button, peel off the backing, stick on the item of clothing and you have a quick and easy solution. Of course, all of these “instant” products are designed to satisfy our insatiable need for instant gratification.
The age of “instant” insanity says, “I want it all and I want it now!” Our grandparents and parents lived a lifetime of patient, faithful labor; what took them a lifetime to acquire, our children want right now. And many of them believe they are entitled to it! At 16 they expect to have a car of their own, or at the very least, at their disposal. When they get their first job, they expect far more than minimum wage and starting at the bottom rung of the ladder. For far too many young people, the benefits of hard work and waiting upon the Lord is as far from their thinking as the east is from the west. Sadly, many of us never grow out of this adolescent stage of “instant” insanity.
As a coach and personal trainer for nearly three decades, I helped people who wanted to change their bodies or increase their performance; they did it the old fashioned way—they watched your diet and exercised regularly—they worked for it! Today we look for the latest “magic” bullet (pills, performance enhancement products, fat removal surgeries) that will do it for us, or at least greatly reduce the time period to get what we are looking for.
So what is the cure for “instant” insanity?
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-3)
James tells us that God has a purpose in perseverance; it must finish its work in us. And what work is that? To become more and more like Jesus. Christlikeness and growing in grace was never designed to happen in a day . . . but daily. It happens through difficulties. It happens through trials. It happens through suffering. And it is designed to take a lifetime. We will not be perfected until we pass into glory. Along the way, we are to persevere and trust God even when we cannot trace Him.
As he neared the conclusion of his epistle, James exhorted:
Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. (James 5:7-8)
Instead of trying to quickly get to the other side of our desires, perhaps God would prefer that we spend some time reflecting on what He is doing in the middle of our times of waiting.
One word of caution: Paul had a strong word of warning for believers in Thessalonica who misunderstood the purposes of God in their waiting and decided to stop working while they waited (see 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13). We are to work for the Lord while waiting on the Lord, and in so doing, we are being conformed into the image and likeness of Jesus.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!