Patience is one of those virtues that has eluded me. While some part of me would like that fact to stay hidden away in sock drawer, God has shown His flashlight on it.
Boom. I see you! Time to come out.
It aches to be drawn out like that. It aches in a good way and a bad way.
The good way is one of relief — God knows where to work. He knows the places that harbor hurt, even though they have come to feel “normal” and may go unnoticed. He highlights it for healing, and deep inside, there’s a feeling of hope.
The “bad way” it aches is that I can feel the growing pains of an impatient person learning patience, and, well, it’s uncomfortable! There’s this focus on waiting. This focus on waiting on things outside of my control.
This focus on waiting on God, which is exactly where the focus should be.
Training in Patience
The Christian virtue of patience requires training. It comes along with friends like “suffering” and “enduring,” and it’s more about a determination to wait rather than a necessity. I like how this post on Biblios puts it:
“We need to ‘wait patiently’ for God, to endure uncomplainingly the various forms of sufferings, wrongs and evils that we meet with, and to bear patiently injustices which we cannot remedy and provocations we cannot remove.”
It doesn’t come naturally to us; it comes from a God of patience (Romans 15:5) who grants it to those who depend on Him. Walker says, “It is in reliance on God and acceptance of His will, with trust in His goodness, wisdom and faithfulness, that we are enabled to endure and to hope steadfastly.”
These are the kind of things we do without patience:
- Fighting back when we should hold our tongue.
- Quitting a job because we don’t get what we want.
- Breaking up a relationship because we aren’t happy.
- Ending friendships that aren’t easy.
- Leaving a situation that requires more communication.
- Hearing God’s answer, but continuing to ask others what we should do, hoping the answer will change.
For many of us, waiting on the Lord causes us to squirm. We wriggle around when we need to hold still. We want to make a decision that will remedy the situation once and for all. We want to speak when we should stay quiet.
I do all of those things.
And yet patience is a virtue. One that is mentioned 59 times in the New Testament.
Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.” (James 5:7-8)
Jesus Teaches About Patience
Today our pastor delivered a message that just hit home — BAM! It was about the parable Jesus told about the fig tree in the garden:
Then Jesus told this story: “A man planted a fig tree in his garden and came again and again to see if there was any fruit on it, but he was always disappointed. Finally, he said to his gardener, ‘I’ve waited three years, and there hasn’t been a single fig! Cut it down. It’s just taking up space in the garden.’
“The gardener answered, ‘Sir, give it one more chance. Leave it another year, and I’ll give it special attention and plenty of fertilizer. If we get figs next year, fine. If not, then you can cut it down.’”
— Luke 13:6-9
Another year? What?!
How often do we want to get rid of whatever isn’t going our way or giving us what we expect right now? Could this possibly mean waiting another year?
Thankfully the “gardener” isn’t as impatient as the owner. He will give the tree care and attention. He knows the value of the tree. Thank you Lord for your unconditional patience and love!
Applying the Message…
When I heard this parable today I was convicted.
God = All patient
Me = Little patience
Just about two hours after that feel-good moment of “wow, that message inspired me,” I met with a situation that required patience. I hung in there for like 5 minutes, but then decided to wriggle and squirm.
It hurts! My natural response is like a frog that wants to jump off the lily pad. It hurts to stay put. To keep quiet. To hold still and wait.
But as a wise woman has told me, when God’s growing us it doesn’t always feel easy — if it did it wouldn’t be growth.
And while pondering that, I heard a pastor on the radio talk about patience and pro-activity. Patience is waiting on God; pro-activity is using that time to pray, seek wise counsel and read the Bible.
It’s a season of patience. God is whispering, “Give it another year.” When everything in human nature says “quit,” when everything in the world says, “just do something,” God says hold steady and wait.
Lord, I’m going by faith.
Prayers for Patience
For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus. -Romans 15:4-5
Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes. Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper—it only leads to harm. For the wicked will be destroyed, but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land. -Psalm 37:7-9
We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.) -Romans 8:24-25