Do you have people in your life who, “Try your patience?” Have you ever thought what that phrase actually means? It sounds as though we have a powder-keg in our mind that we are doing our very best to keep from “blowing” but there are people who stand at the ready to “light the fuse.” We fight them off but, try as we may, they often find a way to make us “blow our stack.” It begs the question, “Can we ever really be patient???”
Have you ever taken a moment to consider what patience really is? Scripture tells us it is “long suffering” or “to suffer long without being angry.”Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians the exercise of patience is an illustration of what it means to love someone. He tells us in Galatians that patience is a “fruit of the Spirit.”
LIVING IN AMERICA
In 21st century America we often define patience in terms of waiting for someone to do something without being too “bent out of shape.” If that is all patience is then we have a real advantage over previous generations! We can just pull out the iPhone and play a game, read social media or check email while waiting. Of course there are those things which take more than a few minutes “wait” time. Things like losing weight, learning a language, finding a spouse, or your husband to pick up his dirty socks off the floor! But patience is more than this…
There are those times when we’re not waiting on someone to “do something” but rather “putting up” with someone who is “doing something” but in a way contrary to what we want. The slow driver in the fast lane, child who chooses the “wrong” major or the spouse who quit a good job to pursue his “dream job” which pays half of what the old one did.
Patience actually encompasses waiting without being “bent out of shape” as well as “putting up” with those who make choices contrary to our own but these are only an illustration of what the virtue of patience actually is.
Patience is allowing someone to live their life in the way they choose, at their own pace, without being angry about it.
Patience is really about control, free will and sovereignty. Patience is affirming another person’s right to choose how they live their life. It is affirming another person’s God given right of free will.
This doesn’t mean we agree with every choice the object of our patience makes. We can still offer an opinion. But, patience means never being angry at the choices and timing of those who live life differently than us. We still love, affirm, support, encourage and bless those who disagree with us. In fact, as believers in Christ, we are to do these things for those who hate and actively oppose us!
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God; that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have what we asked of Him.” — 1 John 5:14-15
Patience may be the greatest way we can love others but it is also one of the most difficult ways to do so. The good news is God has promised to produce patience in us as a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5). We can depend upon God to make us patient, not by giving us circumstances in which we must be patient, but by empowering us with His own power so we may be so. God works in our heart and mind so that we may “will and act according to His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13).”
When we struggle to be patient we may pray, ask God to make us patient and He will so! He will make us patient because it is His will that we be so.
Do you have faith that God will make you patient in those moments when you find it impossible to be so? Do you have faith that God will make you willing to be patient when you simply do not have the desire to be so? If you will believe and trust God, He will empower you to be patient with those in your life who “try your patience.”
A PRAYER FOR PATIENCE
“God, make me willing to be willing to be patient with those whom I have no desire or ability to be patient. In Jesus name, amen.”
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