As we move on in our series covering the greatest gifts of God, we come to one that’s not mentioned as much. Its natural to think of things like love, joy, peace and mercy, but how often do we include in the list of God’s gifts, His gift of patience?
This gift is especially important to me because God has had to show a lot of patience to get me where I am today, and I dare say His patience continues as I strive to learn how to serve Him in the best way. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling this way about myself.
And just as God has been patient with me, I’ve tried to show patience in my own life toward others with varying levels of success. I’ve always been a “let’s do it now” kind of guy but working in ministry has helped me understand that patience is a must.
During our times in quarantine, we have all had to learn the lesson of patience the hard way as we have been forced to go through the motions over several months. Some seem to be doing it without too much trouble while others are really struggling to find any kind of stamina. Lives have been put on hold in many ways and its increasingly difficult to stay the course.
In times like this, its important to meditate on just how patient God has been with us. Time after time we make the same mistakes, follow the same wrong paths and strive for the same wrong things, yet He has remained patient with us. Over and over we have proved our inability to live as He has called us to live, yet His love for us has never wavered, His plans for us have never ceased and His hope for us remains based on optimism.
If we need the perfect example of patience we have simply to look to our Heavenly Father. By His inspiration, we can find the strength to remain patient even in our current trials.
God said through Paul in Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” In other words, as our impatience with things grows, remember, God’s got this.
Being upset and impatient about our current situation isn’t going to achieve for us what we hope it would. God calls us to patience in the understanding that He already has a plan in action that will happen in His perfect timing and in the perfect way. We are simply asked to trust in Him, even if we fail to see Him working in the way we might think He should.
Romans 12;12 reminds us to, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” People are looking to us, as Christians, to show the kind of patience that would emulate God’s patience with us. They might not believe what we believe, but they know what to expect from people who preach love and mercy. Any sense of impatience and lack-of-faith on our end damages that image. Whether they admit it or not, they are looking to our example.
So, rejoice in the hope that God has greater things to come, show patience even if trials greet you and turn to God in every situation through prayer and supplication. I know, easier said than done, but, with practice you will find it becomes easier and easier. You’ll never be perfect at it, but you will come to know the importance of patience that leads to hope and rejoicing.
Patience is the ability to sit back and wait for an expected outcome without experiencing anxiety, tension, or frustration. It is the ability to let go of your need for immediate gratification and be willing to wait.
Patience is the trait that displays tolerance, compassion, understanding, and acceptance toward those who are slower than you in developing maturity, emotional freedom, and coping abilities and it gives you the ability to remain calm in the midst of turmoil because you know God is in control.
If you think about it, your faith in Christ affords you every opportunity to be grateful for what God has given you, even if things don’t work out as you have planned and in the time that you would have liked. Because of this, setbacks should not define us for our intolerance of them. Rather, we should, in gratitude for God’s patience with us, show patience in all areas of our lives.
We have been called to greater things than the world has to offer. In times of trial we have been called to patience. In times of conflict we have been called to peace. In times of hatred, we have been called to love even as Christ loved us. Ephesians 4:2 shows us this when Paul says, “I, therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.”
If anyone had a reason to be impatient with God, it was probably Paul. Though he had given His life to Christ, he was stoned, beaten, and thrown into prison. He must have had thoughts of impatience as he lay stagnant under lock and key. Yet, he was the person God inspired to write these words to the church in Ephesus. He didn’t waist his days in intolerance of God’s timing. Rather, he found new ways to glorify Him. He served Him the best way he knew how as he, no doubt, remembered the patience Christ had for him even as he persecuted His people.
The same kind of patience God had for people like Moses, and David and Peter and Paul, He has for you and I. It is the perfect patience given by the God who created it. A patience beyond our human understanding. A gift that keeps giving despite our lack of patience in return.
Every moment in life gives you a new opportunity to glorify God for all he has done for you. Instead of getting angry when things don’t go your way, find peace in the knowledge that things don’t have to go your way to be perfect. Instead of loosing yourself in anxiety because others don’t have the same sense of urgency that you do, look at the bigger picture of life and come to understand that patience can bring you peace.
Ecclesiastes 7:8 reminds us that “the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.” Ultimately, patience will give us the peace we strive for. It will calm our nerves, realign our priorities and sooth our troubled hearts. It is a remarkable gift from God that is hard to keep but incredibly rewarding to possess.
God has great plans for us and for His church but we will have to show patience as he works through each of us to achieve His goals.
That will take faith that He has everything under His control and the hope He has instilled in us of better things to come.
If God was to judge the world right now, at this very minute, a lot of people we love and care about would be sent to hell, but because God is patient, He gave them one more minute, one more day, one more week, one more month, one more year to come to Him. He asks that we show this same kind of patience toward others.
Our urgency should come in sharing His story of salvation to all who will listen so that the minutes don’t have to turn into years. Our determination should consist only in being God’s hands, feet and mouthpieces to the world. All other things should be clothed in patience.
We don’t all run the race at the same speed and we don’t all start the race at the same time. We don’t all share the same experiences, backgrounds, opportunities, or abilities, but we do all have one thing in common, we all need patience!
The best place to learn patience is from God who, though we resisted Him, would not give up on us. May we be so bold in forgiveness, mercy, grace and patience toward others as He has been to us. Amen.