So last week we talked about being longsuffering. I briefly mentioned longsuffering’s close relative, patience. (I like the distinction between the two I once heard – that longsuffering relates to how you deal with people, while patience is how you deal with things or circumstances.) Since I had a glaring real-life example of lack of patience in the past week, I thought I’d dig into this topic a little more.
Let’s lay some groundwork, like checking out this dictionary definition of patience – “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.” If I could master that, I think I’d be much closer to spiritual maturity!
I’m guessing that patience isn’t a natural reaction for most of us. With our busy lives, getting things done and at as a fast a speed as possible is of primary importance. So with that introduction, here’s my latest story of patience run dry.
Last Friday night, after our daughters’ basketball game, they headed off with friends to a birthday party sleepover. My husband and I decided a nice dinner was in order, so I went online and put us on the wait list of a nearby restaurant. We still had a bit of a wait when we arrived, but got a table after about 20 minutes.
It was already late and we were hungry. And the wait to get our food was probably one of the slowest we’ve ever experienced. I don’t know if most of the kitchen staff had already left or what the issue was. As we waited for our meal, the restaurant started clearing out, so it’s not like they were overrun with customers any longer.
Overall, other than complaining to my husband (which I did repeatedly) (and it’s not like that doesn’t count as impatience!) I thought I held it together pretty well. Until dessert. Yes, we wanted dessert, and made sure to order it even before we finished our meal in hopes that it would arrive by the time we were done eating. Yeah, not happening.
Finally a guy brought our dessert out. As soon as he set it down on the table, I asked if he could have our server bring our ticket as quickly as possible. It was way past my bedtime and I was ready to go home! I’m sure he sensed my frustration. At least she did take care of that quickly, but I had already lost my patience with the whole experience.
Of course, I was convicted about this later, and had to ask forgiveness. I wish this was an out-of-the-ordinary story for me, but sadly, it’s not. That’s just a little thing, one of those daily examples that you might can relate to.
But how about when we’re facing a real trouble or prolonged suffering? How impatient are we to get through whatever situation the Lord has us in? Instead of waiting on God to teach us a lesson or work out a solution for His glory, don’t we just want Him to hurry up and deliver us?
Little circumstances or big ones, our struggle with patience is often about timing – what we want the timing to look like, and whether or not we’re willing to surrender to His timing for our lives. Big, big thoughts to ponder there.
When it comes to patience, Romans 12:12 gave me a lot to chew on.
“Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;”
I thought there were several key words in this verse that could help us grow in patience.
It’s easier to be patient when we’re living in joy and being grateful. Looking around at all we’ve been given helps us focus on how blessed we already are. It can lead us to trust that God is working currently just as He has in the past.
When a trial comes and we’re tempted to be impatient, we should remember that God is in control. He has allowed this situation to come into our life. There’s a reason why He has us here, and we can trust that the outcome will be best for us.
Just know it’s coming. My trial will look different than yours, but we all are going to face difficulties. Each one is an opportunity to grow in our faith and our patience!
I’ve mentioned that prayer is a special emphasis of mine for 2018. We can pray for acceptance of God’s timing, and definitely for the Holy Spirit to produce the fruit of patience in our lives!
Finally, a few quotes that help me visualize what patience should look like in my life.
“Patience is the ability to idle your motor when you feel like stripping your gears.” – Barbara Johnson
“Regardless of how much patience we have, we would prefer never to use any of it.” – James T. O’Brien
“Patience is something you admire in the driver behind you, but not in one ahead.” – Bill McGlashen
With the Holy Spirit’s help, I trust that I can see more victory in this area of patience!