Patience

Lately I've been thinking about patience, or as is often the case, my lack of it. The Bible tells us to be 'patient in tribulation” (Romans 12:12), but that's much more easily said than done. Some of our greatest lessons are learned during times when God appears silent or inactive on our behalf. However, knowing that in our heads doesn't necessarily make the waiting more bearable. It's hard to leave certain situations in God's hands while we wait for Him to answer our prayers. The temptation to jump in and act on our own seems almost irresistible.

Patience is a wonderful virtue, but it's immeasurably frustrating to learn! So how do we learn it? James 1:2-4 says, 'Dear brothers, is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy, for when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. So let it grow, and don't try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete” (The Living Bible).

The Bible tells us that 'patience is better than pride” (Ecclesiastes 7:8, NIV). This view is the opposite of the world's. Our technological society is speed-oriented and the speed keeps increasing. Society seems to reward impatience: Blessed are the impatient, for they will find faster ways to do things. People jump (or drag themselves) out of bed, throw themselves together, rush to jobs, spend the day racing to meet work deadlines, then rush home and try to cram as much as they can into the evening. And the next day they repeat the cycle all over again.

Even mature Christians feel the pressure of this speed-driven world. God, however, is never in a hurry. He isn't up in heaven biting His nails while He frantically tries to answer one prayer after another. Although the earth is home to more than 6 billion people and, theoretically, every one of them could be praying at the same moment, God never gets confused. He patiently hears each prayer, giving it His undivided attention. He is intimately familiar with the tiniest detail of each person's life, and nothing ever catches Him by surprise. We may be caught off guard by an unexpected crisis and temporarily shaken, but our loving Father has already activated His plan to use the situation for good. Although it's impossible for our finite minds to comprehend, He can do more in one second than we could accomplish in a lifetime.

God invites us to come to Him when we are weary and burdened, frustrated by our circumstances, or when the world's impatience rubs off on us. 'Come to me…and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

We learn patience in our trying circumstances as we spend time in the presence of the One who is infinitely patient with us and as we allow Him to work out His plan in our lives.

© by Nancy A. Stevens