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. (NLT)
I don’t like hearing that I need to be patient–never have, probably never will. Yet I know I must if for no other reason than
if other people are not patient with me, I’m in big trouble.
There are two different kinds of patience (both in our common use of the word, and in its biblical dimensions). One is the courage to endure. The opposite of cowardice or despondency, this kind of patience is what gets people through real hardship, whether pain or provocation.
“Patient” comes from a Latin word meaning to bear pain, which is why we call a person in a hospital bed a patient.
But as anyone who has worked in a health care facility can tell you, there are patient patients, and not-so-patient patients.
It does take courage to endure. It should never be taken for granted. Suffering people need to receive a steady flow of sincere compassion (patience from others while they themselves try to be patient). Those who show the courage to endure deserve our honor. They are some of our most important our teachers.
The other kind of patience is the willingness to wait. A more everyday kind of patience, this pattern of attitude and action comes from the belief that most good things in life develop gradually and progressively. The best things in life are worth waiting for. In a single day or week a child grows just a little; someone’s faith develops a bit more; a pattern of character goes through one more cycle. Waiting is a high-level skill. It is not merely “waiting around” as you might for the next bus to come to the bus stop. This kind of waiting is expectation. It is a disposition that says, “I have to live life; I can’t force it to happen.”
Those who grow crops understand waiting well. Seed to seedling, seedling to shoot, shoot to plant, plant to harvest.
Plow and cultivate, and wait. Wait for the sun, the rain, and the rules of nature in the seed to do the work,
and you are rewarded. You invest some money, a lot of sweat, but mostly you wait with patience for the natural course of things to unfold. James 5:7 says:”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.”
Spouses have to be patient with each other. How else could marriage possibly work? Parents need to exercise purposeful waiting with their kids as they help them step from one new challenge to the next. All of us need to be patient
as we forbear the rough edges of each other’s personalities. If human beings came with warning labels they’d all have to say:
handle with care; may cause injury.
And when conflicts do occur, and we do the best we can to clean up the mess, we need to wait for the healing effects of time.
Why do we say time heals? It’s not because the calendar has power, or even because forgetfulness moves across our minds like a fog. Time has a healing effect because all the God-designed healing powers within body and soul do their inexorable work–but gradually.
What good alternative do we have to patience? Getting red-faced and stomping our feet accomplishes nothing.
Settling into an anger with the world and most people who inhabit it just makes us bitter. Throwing our hands up in pessimism and despondency will blind us to real progress. There is no good alternative to patience. But that doesn’t mean patience comes easily.
Patience is faith, hope, and love in action. The Bible says that these are the realities which remain when everything else passes away (1 Corinthians 13:13).
Patience is faith in action because it says:
-I believe God is in control of life.
-I believe that God has given you great potential.
-I believe trust is basic to life.
Patience is hope in action because it says:
-I expect that God has great things in mind for the future.
-Today’s hurt will not remain forever.
-I know that right will prevail over wrong.
Patience is love in action because it says:
-You are worth waiting for.
-Thanks for putting up with my many faults.
-I know you don’t always mean what you say.
-I’ll get over being disappointed.
When we don’t feel like being patient one of the best things we can do is consider the Great Patience of God. “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). On either side of this truth lie two great errors in the way people think about God: that God is impatient, capricious and ready to pounce on our failures; or that God is removed and indifferent.
No, the truth is that God is engaged in this world, He wants the best for us, and He is willing to wait and give us every possible chance to respond appropriately to Him. God is also patient in that he is “slow to anger”: Moses heard these words about God: “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness,
maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished…” (Exodus 34:6-7!). Patience is the difference between someone who wants to be angry and feeds it, and someone who becomes angry only because of unrelenting evil.
Patience is a mark of real character. It is the fruit of believing the right things about God, ourselves, and our future.
It is an antidote to attitudes of revenge, competitiveness, scrutiny, and harsh judgment. Patience loosens the choking grip of anxiety and worry. It is the generous gift of tolerance. Patience makes the effort to understand; it is the calm of not watching the clock or the calendar. Patience is the restraint of impulse.