Patience, almost a running joke at our house, for when I mention to my beautiful wife about my great patience, sometimes I get a great laugh, at other times one of those smiles, you may know that smile, and still at other times a not so great a look, then I know that her patience is wearing thin. Needless to say, patience is not one of my greatest virtues, but over the years I have worked very hard to make it a Christ centered character trait within me, for I have learned just how incredibly patient He has been with me many times in the past.
None of us will ever be as patient in everything as we would like to be, for as long as we are here on earth it is just one of the many character traits that can only truthfully be taught to us by the Holy Spirit. For some, age is an advantage in this continual endeavor, think of the difference between a grandfather’s patience with his grandchildren and his own son with those same children, the passage of time can be a great benefit in some areas of our lives. The passage of time cannot be altered, yet many still try to outrun it, as it were, seeking to fill it with as much as they can to give their lives a sense of purpose beyond what they believe it should be. Others try to reign it in, never paying any attention to it, for life is long and there is no rush, what will happen will happen, but never soon enough to add a moment of patience to their lives.
We can lose our patience, as our Lord did in the most respectful way that I can say it, when He said in Mark 9:19 “He answered him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me.” In fact, it is difficult to say who we lose our patience with the most, others or ourselves, and by others I must include our Lord in this conversation, for would we not all desire that what we request of Him be given to us at the moment we ask Him for it. Think of the patience when the promise was given to Abraham of Isaac, waiting, and thinking that Ishmael was the answer to that promise, (Gen. 21) think on Racheal and her long wait for Joseph, (Gen. 46) the children of Israel grumbling in impatience forty years in the wilderness, the list goes on and on.
We are an impatient people, and in our current day it has become exponentially worse, many want what they want and they want it now, for some a 2.3 second period of time for information to come up on their cell phone seems like an eternity. “In your patience posses ye your souls.” (Luke 21:19) Think on that verse for a moment, your very souls, so what happens if you continually run out of patience, when everything for you needs to happen right now or you will become frustrated, what does that say about the peace that is to reside in your soul. It’s not there. The return of our Lord is imminent, this was the thought the day after Pentecost, in 1204 A.D., and today, He is coming back, but far too many these days say “Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” (2nd Peter 3:4) These have lost their patience and have sought the things of the world for fulfillment and consolation instead. But then there are the others who understand and believe in the promises of 1st Thessalonians chapter 4, and for them patience is not only the key word, it is the way in which they live their lives, there is a crown waiting for these children of God.
Others though have lost their patience in the Lord and have started to treat this world as their home, they have begun to lay up their treasures here on earth instead of in heaven and have become comfortable with what it has to offer. These are those who have found patience only within the limits of their vision, the foreseeable future is what matters and so the work for the Lord can wait, there is plenty of time. They have found a church that puts the focus where they want it, on them, one that rarely convicts them of their need to be obedient to the Word of God, they have become patient only in the here and now and are satisfied with what the world has to offer them.
It is one thing to occasionally become impatient with those around us, for they are as we are, imperfect, and they as well as us need to ask for forgiveness for those imperfections. But one of the fruits of the Spirit that we are to have is that of longsuffering, and it means just what it says, suffering for a long time, and if you do not practice patience, longsuffering could become detrimental instead of a blessing. Patience requires self-restraint, not only within us but around others, if we do not practice it, we will find no joy in our circumstances, to say the least. It is very difficult to wait on the Lord, His time is not our time, and His blessings come upon us when we are ready to receive them, no sooner. To restrain ourselves requires wisdom, and that can only come from the Lord, just because you can do something doesn’t necessarily mean that you should, so to hold ourselves back can be one of the most difficult tasks that we will ever be asked to do. But when our patience wears thin with those around us, we take the chance of offending when we meant no offence, reproving and correcting a brother in Christ is never easy but it should never be attempted when our patience has been tried to the breaking point with that individual. Calmer heads will prevail when patience has been given her place, again, a place where the passage of time can be a benefit.
Many of our prayers fall into the category of patience, we pray for something that we think we need, when in most cases it is only a want, we wait for a preset period of time, and if the prayer is not met in that allotted time frame, we set out on our own to fulfil that prayer request, our patience in God has come to an end in that particular matter. Look at the financial accountability of the majority of Christians, they are deep in debt for things that they would not be patient enough to wait to obtain, vehicle payments, credit cards maxed out, school loan debt, and each one comes with an excuse, a reason for why they could not wait. Many make terrible moves in their personal and business lives, become apathetic and have even lost their trust in the Lords provisions because of impatience, but mostly it is because they do not want to suffer, they do not want to wait, they want it now. That is why longsuffering is a fruit of the Spirit that we are to bear, it is not within us.
“Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (James 1:3-4) Do you see how this verse ends, wanting nothing. Show me a Christian who is impatient, and I will show you someone who wants something, a person who wants to run ahead of God. Now read this verse from Philippians 4:19, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Can you see the difference in these two verse in context with the character traits that a believer in Christ is to have in regards to patience, when we want and do not receive, we become impatient, when we have needs, they are supplied, tells us the difference in how our Lords sees our interaction with our own patience, doesn’t it.
Our Lord in His infinite and unquestionable wisdom has determined the path that He desires each of us to take, and the pace that they should walk on it. You can’t make yourself taller, (Matt. 6:27) none of us are going to enter into the kingdom until the exact moment that He says it is time to, we all will be supplied with what we need, all of our prayers will be answered when it is time, not before. Run, but run with patience the life He has set before you. Don’t try running ahead of God, you will fall, then you will have to wait patiently for Him to come pick you up and set you on your feet again.