Chloe knows the drill and as soon as she sees the wooden tray that Lucas made in high school shop class loaded with paper plates, plastic cups, and bags of chips, or maybe a tall stewpot and some bowls, or perhaps just a couple of steaming mugs, she follows close behind. Does she beg? No, she does not. She sits a small distance from our lawn chairs by the fire and carefully watches. Her eyes will follow the franks as Keith skewers them on the three foot long fork, or she will monitor me as I ladle out the steaming chili. Whatever it is we have, she quietly sits and watches with eyes gleaming in the firelight.
But as soon as she sees me load up the tray tables next to our chairs, she bounces up on all fours and her tail begins to wag. After well over twelve years, she knows what is coming. As I head back to the wooden tray one more time, she finally begins hopping a tiny bit back and forth on her front feet, and licks her chops. "Good girl," I tell her. "Here you go," and hand her a Busy Bone, usually the Chewnola variety, which we have learned over the years keeps her happy the longest. Usually, we all three finish eating at the same time.
Because we have always given her a treat while we eat, she trusts us to do it again—every single time. So she sits and waits patiently with a Biblically defined "hope"—assurance that what is promised will come.
God expects no less of us. But before we get too far along in this, let me say this. "Patience" in the Bible is not about being quiet and never complaining. James talks about "the patience of Job" in 5:11. If you have read Job, you understand that he did not take things quietly. No, patience in the Bible is about endurance, steadfastness, never giving up no matter how difficult things may get. Job certainly did that. God expects that of us as well, in all sorts of situations.
He expects us to wait when people have been evil to us. Do not say, “I will repay evil”; wait for the LORD, and he will deliver you. Prov 20:22. Teach me your way, O LORD, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies. Give me not up to the will of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and they breathe out violence. I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! Psa 27:11-14
He expects us to wait when the evil are prospering and we are suffering. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land. In just a little while, the wicked will be no more…Psa 37:5-10
He expects us to wait even when the world is reviling his name. How long, O God, is the foe to scoff? Is the enemy to revile your name forever? Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand? Take it from the fold of your garment and destroy them! Yet God my King is from of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth. Ps 74:10-12
He expects us to wait in the midst of trials and persecutions. When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer… Rev 6: 9-11
And why do we wait patiently—without giving up on God no matter what happens in our lives? Because of all the promises he has kept in the past. Because of a land and a nation that came into existence after more than four centuries. Because of a Messiah who finally came after thousands of years to fulfill that very first promise: I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Gen3:15 Even because of the care he has promised and given us on an everyday basis.
And now we wait for one final promise: For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God…1Thess4:16
And so we wait, even more eagerly than Chloe waits, I hope, with even more assurance that the promise will indeed be kept. After all, God has been so much more faithful to me than I have been to him.
For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise. For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, o that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul…Heb 6:13-19