Orchids have always intrigued me, and I have received many as gifts. In high school I wore a beautiful pale pink cymbidium wristlet to the prom. For my wedding bouquet, our florist mounted a pure white cattleya in the center of my bouquet that could be removed and worn as a corsage on my going-away dress. Over the years, my husband has splurged for orchid plants as gifts to celebrate special events. They never lasted long. Only in my retirement have I been able to join an orchid society to learn the intricacies of good orchid plant care.

I am convinced that God did some of his best work with orchids. There are more than 35,000 species of orchids and an even greater number of hybrids. The amount of diversity is astonishing. So is the work involved in raising them. Where I live, we can grow a number of orchid species outdoors. I have a large collection now— cattleyas, cymbidiums, dendrobiums and oncidiums, all under shade cloth on my patio. I have learned from my many mistakes to carefully watch my watering, adjusting for temperature, for the amount of light they receive, and supplementing reverse osmosis water with nutrients that optimize growth. Then there are the things to watch for that work against a healthy plant— diseases, viruses, insects, fungi, bacterial infections, all of which plague the plant itself.

If you are patient, and if all things work together in your favor, you will be rewarded once a year with a blossom like no other flower. If you miss the season that requires a period of rest, over water, over fertilize, expose your plant to temperature changes, or repot it at the wrong time, the plant won’t flower. Then you must wait for another flowering cycle. When tending to my orchids, I water, fertilize, check for symptoms of diseases and pests, but mostly just wait impatiently for signs of new growth to appear.

One would think the practice of waiting would make each cycle easier. But that is not my experience. I grow more anxious, partly in anticipation and partly worrying about the outcome. I once read about a Japanese practice of cutting off an orchid plant’s flowers just as they are budding. This forces the plant to save its energy, a process that is repeated annually up to 25 years, until finally the plant produces multiple spikes at once, each with multiple flowers so that on a single plant there may be 100 blooming orchids all at once. Spectacular! But I cannot even fathom the patience required to wait that long!

I am in a season of life right now that requires patience as I navigate health changes that will impact my married life for the rest of our lives. I want to be patient, to wait up on the Lord, to trust in His timing. But my initial reaction is to be disappointed for what might have been, to struggle as I watch our retirement dreams hang in the balance, and to try to find an answer for myself to the question, “If God wanted me to be patient, why did he create me so impatient?”

God provides the perfect example of patience. He has called me back from my sinful estate more times than I can remember. Slow to anger and ready to forgive even after I am confessing a repeat sin, God patiently brings me back to a place of refuge, where I can rest in his loving arms, knowing that he has good plans for me. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jer. 29:11).” The Lord is patient with me first, therefore I should also take waiting on his answers and his timing in a patient manner. When I wait patiently on the Lord, I am practicing faith and trust in Him. This must be pleasing to God because Hebrews 11:6 tells us,And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”

Patience does not come naturally, but the Bible tells us it can be cultivated from the exercise of enduring disappointments and sufferings. Just as the orchid plant gets stronger each year that its flowers are removed when budding, we get stronger when we endure sufferings. The Apostle Paul explains “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Rom. 5:3-5).”

King David wrote in Psalm 62:1 “For God alone my soul waits in silence.” John Calvin, in his commentary on this verse, explains this waiting in silence: “The silence intended is, in short, that composed submission of the believer, in the exercise of which he acquiesces in the promises of God, gives place to his word, bows to his sovereignty, and suppresses every inward murmur of dissatisfaction.”[1]

Lord, thank you for how patient you are with me. Teach me to follow your example and be patient with my circumstances and with other people. I don’t want to grumble about my circumstances. You, Lord, are faithful and I can trust my present and my future to your sovereign will. Help me to stay focused on your faithfulness, to submit to your will, and to count my many blessings, remembering that all are gifts from you. I praise you for you are worthy and I wait patiently in silence before you alone.


Photo by Dieny Portinanni on Unsplash

Sharon Rockwell

Sharon retired from a career first as a chemist and then as a regulatory affairs consultant to the medical device industry.  She has served on the women’s ministry team at Grace Presbyterian Church in her hometown of Yorba Linda, California, and has worked as the west coast regional advisor for the PCA.  She and her husband have 5 toddler grandchildren, current count girls 4, boys 1.  In her spare time Sharon enjoys cooking, traveling, bird watching and raising orchids.