Patience is a virtue that many of us would like to master but more times than not, it is impossible to do so. Just this morning, I lost mine when my son wanted me to get up and go and get some bread for him. I had told him that he could have some after he finished having his cereal. Not long after I sat down and was having my breakfast when he came to me and said, “You can get the bread now.” In retrospect, I should have reprimanded him for talking to me as if he were talking to one of his friends.
I stared at him and asked myself, couldn’t he wait until I was finished eating first? I began to fume, thinking how inconsiderate he was being. “Have you finished your cereal?” I asked, looking past him at the white bowl on the table. I couldn’t believe that he had finished it so quickly. Well, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. He was probably hungry and he’s growing so his appetite has increased. I dread the teenage years.
Anyway, I got him the bread he asked for and resumed having my breakfast. Of course, I felt bad shortly afterwards for losing my patience with him. I realize that it takes so much more out of me when I lose my patience that when I exercise it. It seems like there are times when it’s easy to remain patient and there are others times when it’s not. I believe that children are there to test our patience because there have been occasions when I have asked God to give me patience and not long after a situation arises where I need it in order to deal with my son. If we can exercise patience when dealing with our children on a daily basis, then we are off to a great start.
It’s not surprising that exercising patience seems like an impossible feat sometimes. It is a Fruit of the Spirit. Anything spiritual is hard to achieve when we try to do it in our own strength. In order to have patience we need the help of the Holy Spirit. It’s too easy to get impatient, especially when dealing with our children, difficult situations, people, relationships or waiting for God to answer our prayers. We get impatient when we have to wait or when we think things are not happening as quickly as they should. Many things try our patience but the Bible encourages us to be patient anyway.
In Psalm 27:14, David encourages us to, “Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!” It takes courage to wait, especially when what we are waiting for is taking a long time to happen and the temptation to hurry things along is there. After years of patiently waiting to have a child, Sarah finally decided that she was going to come up with her own plan because God’s was taking too long. So, she had her handmaid, Hagar be her surrogate and she was going to raise the child as hers. However, that only caused a lot of problems which are still evident today. Yes, it takes a lot of patience to wait upon the Lord whose timing is not ours and who doesn’t always give us what we want when we want it or in the way we expect. But, we have the promise that when we choose to wait, God will strengthen our hearts.
And when it comes to trials, we are encouraged to bear them without grumbling. The apostle Paul had his share of trials which he mentioned in great detail in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28. He faced death, was persecuted, imprisoned, beaten but Paul saw these trials as nothing because they were the result of his faith in Christ and his service to the One who had called him into ministry. Paul learned patience from Jesus who had shown him patience when the apostle was persecuting the church. For him, Jesus was the perfect example of patience.
In his first letter to Timothy, Paul wrote that he received mercy from Jesus although he was a blasphemer, persecutor and an insolent man who acted in ignorance because he was to be an example of Jesus’ patience toward people like Paul for those who will believe on Him for eternal life. In other words, there’s hope for us because the same Jesus who exercised patience toward Paul and showed him mercy will do the same for us. Paul testified, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15).
Right now, the Lord is showing great patience toward us in that it seems as if He has delayed His coming but the reality is that He has not. He will return at the appointed time. He has promised that He will return and the Lord is not slack when it comes to His promise but in the meantime He wants as many people as possible to be saved. He is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Praise the Lord for His enduring patience.