Who doesn’t want more patience? It’s a desirable, godly, practical quality. But who wants more trials? If that is how patience is achieved – by enduring difficulties – then I think I’d rather skip that part. Paul said: “we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience” (Romans 5:3, KJV). I’m not sure I’ve reached that stage of maturity. How about you?
Many people are struggling to learn patience in lots of areas during these days of the pandemic. Students are frustrated with online learning. Teachers are having trouble getting through to students who are negligent in their studies or not even attending class. Parents are stretched to their limits trying to keep their children and teens engaged and learning all that they should.
Doctors and nurses have a lot of patience. But their limits are being tested by overcrowded conditions, lack of equipment and meds, and dealing with frustrated families who just want to be together during emergencies and illnesses.
Right now I am dealing with patience while waiting for a building project to begin. The backyard is filled with piles of dirt until all of the required paperwork is done in offices where I have no influence or control. The contractor is in quarantine due to a case of COVID. It’s hard to sit still and wait. But sometimes that is what is required. I have confidence that in the end it will be worth the wait.
At times, we all have to wait in God’s waiting room. When I’m there, I try to learn to be patient, thankful, hopeful, even joyful. It’s possible when the Holy Spirit is at work in the garden of my heart. He is sowing and planting and producing fruit. “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23, ESV). Who wouldn’t want all of those wonderful personal attributes?
But here’s the catch. “Let patience have her perfect work,” James says (James 1:4, KJV). Be still and watch the Lord at work. I can’t be chomping at the bit, thinking I have to do the work. I must let patience work at God’s speed and timing in order to experience peace, rather than frustration.
I love how the Phillips New Testament translates James 1:2-3. “When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives, my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realise that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance.” That’s patience at its best. Is it a welcome friend to you?