“When our pause seems more like a wilderness, we must be determined to strengthen our faith by trusting His timing. Cling to His peace, and remember — God has a history of working miracles.” -Wendy Pope
I absolutely love this statement by Wendy Pope. Each word defines God’s recent development of patience within me. As 2016 nears its end, I can look back and say that it has been the second most trying time in my life. A time when I wanted certain things to happen — at a certain time, but it didn’t happen exactly as I had “planned in my mind.” It has been a pause year for me. A wilderness year. A trusting year. A year when I’ve come to realize that God knows exactly what He’s doing.
Patience has always been one of my weaknesses. I’m the type of person to always want to do things myself and have it done at a certain time…and if it didn’t work out because of something I couldn’t control, like someone else not pulling their weight or some unforeseen circumstance I would get soooo frustrated and upset. I felt like if I did my part, hey things should work out perfectly, right? But as this year has taught me, it doesn’t always work out that way, and I needed to desperately learn and understand the importance of patience with others and with God.
If you didn’t know, patience is one of the nine fruits of the Spirit. It is simply a characteristic of the Holy Spirit, God and Christ. It is one of many characteristics that Christ’s followers should embody. Patience isn’t something that you instantly have, it takes time to really develop in your life… and it only develops and is perfected through experiencing tests and trials.
I want to highlight one particular example and testimony of patience. I went to a surprise birthday party for one of my friends on Saturday, October 29, 2016 at Dave & Buster’s. My sister paid for my food and I paid for my drink with my debit card. The waiter came back with my receipt and this was the first time (and last time) that I didn’t sign the receipt…I didn’t think anything of it to be honest. Well, one week later I checked my bank account and saw that the restaurant debited $50.79 from my account!!! I was outraged, frustrated and upset!!!! Every negative emotion you could think of, that was me. My first thought was ummm….did this waiter just steal money from me?! So I immediately called the restaurant to speak to the manager and vent. The manager (let’s call him Matthew) apologized and said he didn’t have issues with his staff stealing any money, but he would look into it. He took my information and said he would call me back later that day to follow up. Well he came through on his promise and said because our party was so large the waiter got confused with the orders and overcharged me. Matthew told me he was going to sign off on paperwork to make sure I received my money back….he said to give it one week and if it didn’t show up in my account to give him a call back. So, I waited a week still upset, but not as much as I was before because I felt like the issue was going to get resolved. I checked my account and….NOTHING! So the frustration started to rise again and I called the restaurant again and Matthew wasn’t there. The hostess told me he would be back at another time/day (can’t remember because I called this place more than 20 times) suffice to say…anger levels were rising. Patience, non-existent. So to cut the story shorter… I finally got in contact with Matthew and let him know that I still didn’t see the funds in my account. He apologized and said he didn’t know what happened because he signed off on the paperwork, but would send in another form just in case. Another week to wait. Another week, same result. Can you believe it? Back and forth I went calling this place to hear answers of “Matthew isn’t here yet, or he’s in a meeting”…you get the point. Days passed by. I called again and got another manager (Let’s call him Tim). Tim seemed a bit more concerned and said Matthew wasn’t there but he would call his cell and would give me a call back later that day. Did Tim call me back? Nope! Can you imagine how I was feeling at that moment? I’ll tell you. I felt like no one there cared about me. I felt like I was lied to. I felt like someone got away with stealing money from me no matter how many times Matthew or Tim “said” that they filed paperwork to get me my money back because at this point it’s been nearly a month since this incident first occurred. I called my bank to see if they could help in any way. They told me I could fill out a complaint form and it could take UP TO 120 DAYS for the issue to get resolved!!! Aaaaaah!!!! I wanted to scream. 120 MORE DAYS??????? Nah, I couldn’t do that. I told her I was just going to have to get it resolved one way or another with Dave & Buster’s.
Some days passed, and for the first time during this whole ordeal I decided to…pray. Never did I think, “Oh I need to pray to God about being billed $50.79 at a restaurant.” It seemed so trivial for me to even think to bring this to God, like does God really care about this lol. But nothing else was working and I was beyond the point of frustration. Again, wanting things to go my way, when I wanted it, and getting mad when it didn’t because of someone else’s miscue. Patience…it was absent. So I prayed, God was my only hope…unfortunate and crazy for me to put him last instead of realizing that he should’ve been the FIRST one I should’ve gone to in my time of distress. The Holy Spirit spoke to me and told me to calm down and find peace in Christ. To trust Him. He then told me to go on Dave & Buster’s website and call their corporate office on Monday (sometime in early December…can’t recall the exact date). I finally had peace and confidence. I EXPECTED God to perform a miracle! I let my faith stand on top of my hope in God. So, I followed His instructions. I called the corporate number and…..the phone just rang, and rang and rang. At this point I just laughed. My faith didn’t waver though, I just thought “ok God, you told me to come on their website and call the corporate number. I know you didn’t tell me all of this for it not to be resolved and for me to get the run around AGAIN.” Well after calling twice with the same result, I looked over on their website and see a different number that was linked to a Chicago office. The Holy Spirit told me to call that number. I obeyed. A lady answered and I briefly told her what happened. She apologized and said she wasn’t the right person who could help me. I didn’t lose my patience, still trusting God. I just said “ok, thank you.” She told me she was going to transfer me to the right manager. So I get transferred and the phone rang, and rang and rang. Still no frustration from me. Despite it looking hopeless, I STILL trusted God. The Holy Spirit told me not to hang up, and I obeyed. Someone answered. His name was Mike. And from the moment he said hello, I could tell that this was it! Everything was going to be ok. He was truly an angel. I let out my frustration, and he patiently listened. He was calm, compassionate, helpful, kind….everything I wanted to hear from a manager since the first day I called Dave & Buster’s. I trusted him. Not only did he say that he was personally going to see to it that my issue would be seen by one of his friends in the corporate office, but he was also going to send me a $20 gift card, a $40 game card, and 20% off anything at the restaurant!!! He told me he was personally going to mail it to me. I couldn’t believe it! Over one month and it happened.
Just as he said, I received the package Mike sent me in the mail!!! Personalized just for me 🙂 GOD DID THIS!!!!!!!
AND to my surprise Mike even took the time to write me a letter. The first word to pop out at me in the first sentence was PATIENCE!
Man, God TRULY knew what he was doing. As I read the letter I recalled not only the chain of events, but how God was with me the entire time. How even during my lowest points and frustrations He was testing me, working in me His patience, and proving to me that He is Lord. Nobody could’ve done this but God! Not only did He teach me patience, but he blessed me with ABUNDANCE! I’m reminded of the scripture, “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” -Ephesians 3:20. God did WAY MORE than I even asked or expected. And the power of His patience was at work within me and enabled me to receive this wonderful blessing.
Before the year was up, God completed this blessing. I received my money back from Dave & Buster’s on December 19, 2016!
Yes, I wrote that with an exclamation point. It took over one month to receive it, but it happened. Delay does not mean denial. And I’m honestly grateful that it happened this way. God had to work in me something that I struggled with, and I saw first-hand how truly amazing He is to me! To think, if I got my money back within that one week I would’ve never really learned the meaning and value of patience. I would’ve missed out on seeing God at work within me and his favor for me. I would’ve missed out on receiving an unexpected abundance of blessings. God allowed Mike to be the one to pick up the phone that day and everything changed. I prayed, I listened to God, I obeyed God, I trusted God, and I saw God work a miracle!
So, I say to anyone who is struggling with patience, trusting God, or even anyone who is going through a test or trial to know….let go and let God!!!!! You may not understand why certain things aren’t going they way you want or when you want, but know that God is working all things for your good. Trust me, there is a plan at work even though you can’t see it. God is omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent. His ways and thoughts are PERFECT. He knows exactly what we need, when we need it, and how we need to get it. In the end, His purpose is to make us more like Christ. If we obey and surrender out will to God, these nine fruits of the spirit will begin to be molded and shaped within us. “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” -Galatians 5:22-23
Life brings various trials and tribulations, but remember my testimony and this scripture to keep you lifted:
“We can rejoice, too when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope…And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us…” -Romans 5:3-5
My Pastor, Pastor John Hannah of New Life Covenant Southeast Church in Chicago, told us that 2017 is going to be about Confident Expectancy. And I’m running into it with that powerful mindset!