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  • Shawn Thornton

Patience Takes Time

Thursday - July 9th Scripture to Read for Today's Devotional: 2 Samuel 5:4-5

Today's Selection from our Sermon on the Mount Reading Plan: Matthew 5:27-32

Let's not get tired of doing what is good.

At just the right time, we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up.

-Galatians 6:9 NLT


In 1907, Boston attorney Lawrence Luellen created a cup. It wasn't just any cup. It wasn't made of glass or metal—the norm at the time. Instead, it was made of paper so it could be thrown away after being used. While not earth-shattering in our day, in the early 1900s, there were no disposable paper tissues or paper towels. A cup made of paper was a totally novel idea, one with a noble goal. Luellen hoped his paper cups could help stop the spread of disease.

At the time of Luellen's invention, most water sources and fountains for drinking used a common cup or ladle (often tied by a rope to the fountain). What he created in the cup that he branded as the "Health Cup," provided a necessary service to the modern world. The problem was that very few bought any of the Health Cups for the first 10 years of its existence. It wasn't until the global pandemic of the Spanish Flu of 1918 that sales of the Health Cup (rebranded as Dixie Cups – named for a popular doll named Dixie) skyrocketed. Many medical professionals credited Luellen's paper cup as the number one reason the flu did not take more lives than it did. 

Luellen finally realized his dream of mass marketing his invention. It took years and a global pandemic for the public to embrace what he knew would provide the world with greater protection from infectious diseases. Luellen told friends and colleagues that the hardest part of his invention was waiting years for others to grasp its need and buy the cups for themselves. Patience was his greatest challenge.

Patience is not only a challenge for inventors. All of us struggle with waiting. We live in an era of instant gratification. We want what we want, and we want it now. Our impatience often gets us in serious trouble and hurts others. God tells us that patience is a fruit of the Spirit. The more like Christ we become, the more patience becomes a part of our character. 

God often grows us as we wait for His timing in our lives. King David waited a long time to experience God's full promise that he would be the king of all the tribes of Israel. From the time he was anointed to be king by Samuel, the priest, to the time he was king over just his own tribe of Judah, was twenty-five years. King Saul had died, but David still was not king over eleven tribes. It would be another seven years until the elders of the other eleven tribes made him king over all twelve. He waited a total of thirty-two years from the time God promised him that he would follow King Saul as the King of all Israel.

David grew a lot through those years. He lived in exile and on the run from his father-in-law, King Saul. David befriended the enemy of Israel, the Philistines. They eventually turned against David as they went to war with Israel - a war in which King Saul would die. David experienced many successes and disappointments. As we read his Psalms, we get an insight into how he grew through the challenges of that season of life. God used the years of waiting to shape David into a king and into the man described as having a "heart after God." According to 2 Samuel 5:4, David reigned as King of one or all twelve tribes of Israel for a total of forty years.

Maybe you are waiting for a significant milestone in your education, career, family, or spiritual life. The story of Luellen's Health Cups illustrates how God may be preparing us today for something critical later. The narrative of David from his anointing to his kingship over all twelve tribes tells us that God patiently shapes and prepares us for what He has planned for us.

What is it that you find yourself waiting for today? Perhaps God has already been shaping and preparing you for that. Remember, patience takes time. List a few ways God has grown you in your waiting. Work your way through that list and thank God for what he is doing in your life over time.  

While God has you waiting for something, look for how He will grow you through your patience!

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