If patience is truly a virtue then my cup runneth empty. I’ve never been one to not be in control and patience invades my reign. Impatience feels freeing. I can do things on my terms at all times. From the smallest ideas of time management and how much I get frustrated when people make me late to the grand gestures of being forced to work on a group project with someone I feel is incompetent I don’t want to do it. I would love it if the Holy Spirit would leave me love patience on the eternal side of my inheritance. Everything I’ve said makes it clear that at the root of my lack of patience is too much concern with myself. Patience doesn’t serve me well because patience requires selflessness to extend the unending grace God bestows on me to the rest of His creation.
1 Corinthians 13:4 tells us “Love is patient…..”
But what is patience. Is it a lofty goal? Is it an attainable goal? Can we seek to live it out? I believe we can.
We must endure with ourselves and with others in order to be patient. Patience is more than just being in a situation and being present. Patience is enduring with grace for yourself and for others. It is knowing that God is there and working enough to move in you and in those he is called you to be patient with. There will be difficulty. There will many a moment of frustration but patience waits on the Lord without complaint, malice, or doubt.
We must rest in Christ. We must know that His ability and power will enable us to handle everything that is sent our way. The strength of patience isn’t an a showy display of what we can do. It is the display of our ability to stand still and wait for God to show himself strong. It is the power to be gentle. It is the practical exercising of self control. The character of a patient person is marked by restraint. Patience requires us to learn how to resist all unholy reactions we may have and be a servant to others.
We must fight for this attribute of God to be manifest in our day to day lives. We have to choose to put on this and drop all things to the contrary. We won't just fall into this. We must train ourselves in word, deed, thought, and action to live this out. Our disposition must be one that believes this is good. When we have a moment to use harsh words, or to rush someone we can choose and must choose to do the opposite.
Patience is never wishy washy. God’s ability to be patient with us is constant and reliable. This should be the same in our display. People shouldn't have to wonder which you they're going to receive from moment to moment. Patience isn't fleeting. It isn't subjective. It is an ability to cling to truth and let that be the pillar you stand on.
The measure of your patience is not necessarily only in how much you succeed but in a willing heart submitted to God. It is often hard for me to display this to people because I don’t want to. There are times when I simply fail but there are other times when I stand in my own way. I stand in God’s way. Instead of allowing Him to love His people and reflect His character through me I choose myself and sin. This has to become an area where my mind and heart are shaped in His hands and dead set on submission. I can’t display patience to people if I am unwilling to love them as His creations. I hope to daily be more and more willing to love as He does and be willing to show grace and patience.
None of the things I have laid out are easy to do. On most days they are not even genuine desires. Despite the endless failures we will experience there is much fruit to be had in pursuing patience. Don’t get discouraged and keep your eyes on the savior when you want to give up. Figure out the things that hinder your patience and learn to be proactive instead of reactive. Communicate your frustrations instead of repeatedly harboring impatience and not making room for you and your community to grow. Be honest with yourself and repent to God of the ways you don’t show patience and where you don’t yearn for this characteristic of His. Pray for patience while actively making decisions to show this. He is faithful to be patient with us and to help us be patient with others.
Be practical. Be prayerful. Be patient.
- Jenean Elizabeth