Patience. Just be still. Good things come to those who wait. If you had a dollar for every time you heard these things, especially the latter, you would probably be rich. Most people use this phrase as part of their Christianized language. Still, is the phrase from the Bible or a reference from something else?
Is it true that good things come to someone who waits? What does it even mean to wait? And for how long? Why would we be rewarded with good things? There is no Scriptural basis for this quote whatsoever. That’s not even the full quote.
Origin of the saying “good things come to those who wait.”
The phrase is originally from an old English proverb, “all things come to those who wait.” This phrase may have originated from a poem by Lady Mary Montgomerie Currie, who wrote under her pseudonym, Violet Fane. The saying first appeared in her poem “Tout vient a qui sait attendre.” The poem was published at the beginning of the 20th century. Other than this, there are no written references regarding the proverb’s origin.
The phrase doesn’t mean being patient but, instead, working hard when the opportunity arises. For example, you and your boss are the same age, but she is your boss because she worked harder when the opportunity arose. Therefore, she reaped the benefits of being in a management position. In other words, being patient coupled with working hard and relying on God is the best poster you can have for your future.
What does the Bible say about patience?
We all know patience is a virtue, and we’re familiar with that cliché, and many of us know Paul lists that patience in Galatians 5:22-23 as among the fruit of the Spirit. So, there’s no disputing that God wants us to be patient. But as with most virtues, the biblical writers assume that we know what patience is and don’t give an explicit definition.
Patience is defined as an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay.
Although most individuals consider patience to be a passive, waiting, or gentle tolerance, most Greek words translated as “patience” in the New Testament are active, vigorous words. Consider, for example, Hebrews 12:1: “Therefore, since such a great cloud of witnesses surrounds us, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
In this verse, the word translated as “patience” means “endurance.” The athletes didn’t take a stroll or run at half their ability. They ran with endurance and perseverance. They ran to complete the race to the best of their skills and gave it their all. They also ran the race patiently by persevering through difficulties. In the Bible, patience is striving towards a goal, enduring trials, or expecting a promise to be fulfilled.
Waiting without complaint is no easy task. It is a characteristic developed and refined over time since the day we were born. How many times can you remember your mother or father simply telling you, “Be patient.” So, what is so virtuous about not complaining? To be patient is to endure discomfort without complaint — to endure hardship.
This calls on the strength of humility, self-control, and generosity. In other words, patience isn’t just one fundamental characteristic. It’s robust and complex and fuels our faith. We are given opportunities daily to practice it. At work, at home, with your kids, with your neighbor.
Biblical references to patience and God’s will.
Colossians 1:11 tells us that we are strengthened by Him to “great endurance and patience,” while James 1:3-4 encourages us to know that trials are His way of perfecting our patience. This ability is further refined and strengthened as we rest our patience, wants, desires, and dreams in God’s will and perfect timing rather than our own. God has his sense of timing. 2 Peter 3:8 says, “With the Lord, one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.” He has perfect timing: never early, never late. God is never in a hurry, but he is always on time.
The struggles of waiting on God.
Waiting on God is your ability to believe that He holds and directs your life. He is the author and perfecter, and He can do a better job of our lives than we can when we try to make things happen. For example, do you want an Ishmael opportunity or an Isaac moment? Are you settling for what’s good or waiting for what’s best?
Sarah had prayed for years to have a child, and when she realized God wasn’t going to give her one, she stopped waiting. What’s worse is how she took matters into her own hands. She gave her maid Hagar to her husband to have children through her.
It wasn’t uncommon in those days for this practice, but they were promised a child from God. So, Ishmael came from this union, and instead of bringing joy to Sarah, it only brought bitterness and remorse.
When she was in her 90’s, God did something truly miraculous. He kept his promise, and Sarah became pregnant and gave birth to her precious baby boy, Isaac. What was supposed to be a joyous time raising a family became a rival between the boys. It caused many problems until finally, Abraham sent Ishmael and his mother away. Somewhere along the journey, we will be tempted to “create an Ishmael.” Like Abraham and Sarah, we will be tempted to make the promises of God happen. The problem is that we can’t possibly do that. The problem is that we can’t control God or his timing. We don’t help Him in it unless He asks us to. Our primary roles are to wait, make plans, and let Him guide our steps. In other words, yes, good things do come to those who wait on the Lord.
Isaiah 40:31 tells us, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint.” We all know that patience is a virtue. Being patient has its peaks and valleys, but patience has its rewards. The origin of the saying “good things come to those who wait” may not be biblical, but it resonates within the Christian faith. The worst thing you can do is get impatient with God and worsen the situation. If you find yourself in a situation where you have to wait, sit back and trust God. He knows what to do.