Surely, the practice of extortion turns a wise person into a fool, and a bribe destroys the mind. The end of a matter is better than its beginning; a patient spirit is better than a proud spirit. Don’t let your spirit rush to be angry, for anger abides in the heart of fools. Don’t say, “Why were the former days better than these?” For it is not wise of you to ask this. Eccl 7:7-10 (HCSB)
Learning to be content in our present state – the challenges and opportunities that are in the present moment – is the key to learning to be patient. We cannot change the past; those days of opportunities and challenges are behind us and never can be realized again. What we failed to accomplish for any number of reasons (most likely because of selfish excuses) are like the water in a river that has rushed on by us and is certainly irretrievable. Yet, likewise, the opportunities and challenges of the future are unknown until they present themselves in the present, and can only be recognized in the context of the present. It is like trying to predict what will flow in the waters that have just began its journey at the head of a river – so much depends upon what is in the path of the river along the way, long before it reaches you where you are. The future is unpredictable, and God certainly is the only person who knows the future, because He alone exists outside of space and time, and He is the creator of all that occurs in this lifetime, past, present or future.
In light of our present situation in life: Why get impatient and angry because you want to know what is coming as the next challenge or opportunity in your life? God knows what you are capable of handling, and only allows what you can handle to be thrown at you in this present moment in time. Sometimes you may feel overburdened, and other-times you may feel even bored, but God is teaching you through all those moments. How you handle life in the now, God is watching, shaping and molding you for what the future holds for you. So do not be like the fool and pursue a seer and her crystal ball to peek into the future, because they only see what you want to see, not the future. And, wishing to return to the days of our past is futile and certainly folly, because if we could go back, it would never be the same because you are not the same person who lived in the past moment! Learn from the past, but realize we can never live in the past.
So how can we have the strength to cope and exist in the present challenges and opportunities of the present that often seem like endless tests, trials, and tribulations of our patience, our endurance, and our perseverance? The answer is simple. Seek out a daily, present moment relationship with the author of time and space, the one who orchestrates the challenges and opportunities for each of us – God, our heavenly Father. Begin each day and return as needed to seeking God’s will, God’s ways, and God’s wisdom according to God’s Word. Pray for the patience to wait on the future as we prepare in the present, and praise Him for what has past and is clearly behind us. Believe with all your heart that God knows what is best for us, and that He does allow choices at certain crossroads, but He will continue to journey with us in the present for the greater good, no matter the choices we may make. But for heaven’s sake: don’t be like the fool and try to dam up the river to hold onto the past and rush the future, as the fool will only get washed away by what he thought he could handle that was not his to have!
I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last you have renewed your care for me. You were, in fact, concerned about me, but lacked the opportunity [to show it]. I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret [of being content] – whether well-fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me. Still, you did well by sharing with me in my hardship. Phil 4:10-14 (HCSB)