Relevant Text: Is. 28:16 (underlined below)
Full Text: Is. 28 & 1:1-20 and 2 Kg 18:9-22 & 17:7-41

Stanford Marshmallow Experiment | If you gave a marshmallow to each child in a preschool classroom and told them that you would give them another if they waited 15 minutes to eat the first, only one-third would be able to wait. What’s the difference between the patient and impatient kids? It’s not about how much they want the marshmallow – they all want it. Rather, as researchers discovered, it’s about their “strategic allocation of attention” – that is, their ability to distract themselves: “If you’re thinking about the marshmallow and how delicious it is, then you’re going to eat it. The key is to avoid thinking about it in the first place” [1].

Struggling with Patience | There is no question that the Lord longs for His people to be patient. Jesus said, “Do not be anxious about your life” [2], and Paul wrote, “Do not be anxious about anything” [3]. Yet, how are we supposed to obey these commands? After all, most of us want things that we don’t yet have and the uncertainty about whether we’ll get those things usually breeds impatience and anxiety. The longer we wait, the more we ask, “Will we ever get those things?” And the longer we pray, the more we wonder, “God doesn’t seem to hear or care. Maybe I should just take things into my own hands …”

Redirecting, Not Defeating | Like the preschoolers, however, our patience depends on our ability to redirect our desires, not defeat them. Rather than focus on what not to want, we focus on the trustworthiness of God. As Isaiah spoke, Whoever believes will not be in haste [4]. We redirect our desires by believing God – His sovereign control over all things [5] and His loving work for those who trust in Him [6]. Our God never sleeps or slumbers [7]. He knows what we need before we ask Him [8]. He is working for us right now.

Prayer | Lord, As we enter the New Year, we are full of uncertainty – financial, professional, relational, political. Yet, as your children, we desire less that you would remove our uncertainty and more that you would increase our faith in the midst of it. Thus, in our culture that demands to have things now, we long to honor you with patience and trust. Help us to distract ourselves by meditating on your Word – for we live by faith in the Son of God who loved us and gave himself for us [9]. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Jonah Lehrer, Don’t! The secret of self-control. The New Yorker. 18 May 2009.
[2] Matt. 6:25 ESV  |  [3] Phil. 4:6 ESV  |  [4] Is. 28:16 ESV. See also Rom. 10:11.  |  [5] See e.g., Eph. 1:11-12.
[6] See Rom. 8:28.  |  [7] See Ps. 121:3-4.  |  [8] See Matt. 6:7-8.  | [9] See Gal. 2:20.

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