God promised to Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. But when the promise was first given (Genesis 12:1-3) Abraham and his wife Sarah did not have any children. God continued to restate His promise to Abraham through the years (Genesis 13:6; 15:1-6; 17:6-8; 18:10).
Abraham, though known as a man of faith, took his wife’s suggestion and had a child with Sarah’s handmaid. The son’s name was Ishmael. But this was not the son God intended for Abraham. (Genesis 16)
Finally when Abraham was 100 and Sarah was 90 years old God gave them their son Isaac. Though it took years of patiently waiting, they received the promise of God. Hebrews 6:15 says of Abraham, “And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.”
Joseph – From Pit to Prison to Palace – A Picture of Patience
Joseph’s brothers sold him as a slave (Genesis 37:27, 28). Though he did not understand all that was happening, he trusted God to work out His plan in His time. Joseph patiently worked faithfully in each situation he was in. He waited for God to fulfill His promise that Joseph would be a leader of his people (Genesis 37:5-11). He had to be patient as he believed God, but probably wondered why he was sitting in a prison cell.
God did lift Joseph up to great power and responsibility. Not only was he a leader of his people, but he ruled over the people of Egypt too. Patience was needed to allow God to accomplish His purposes in the life of Joseph and his family.
Job – The Man of Patience
Probably the best known story of patience in the Bible is the life of Job. To prove Job’s faithfulness to the Lord, God allowed the devil to destroy everything Job owned (Job 1). Job was a wealthy man. He lost his crops, property, cattle and servants. But most devastating of all was when Job lost his children. However, Job did not blame God. He accepted that God had a plan and would be patient for God to reveal His plan.
Job’s friends came to council him. They tried to find out what great sin Job had committed to deserve the punishment he received. Job would not admit to any sin. Job knew that sometimes bad things happen to good people.
Often people will talk about the patience of Job. He knew God had a plan and was willing to accept what God allowed in his life. In the end God restored to Job twice as much as he had in the beginning (Job 42:10).