The definition is hard to live up to: "possessing or demonstrating quiet, uncomplaining endurance under distress or annoyance," (Funk & Wagnalls Standard Desk Dictionary, Vol. 2) Wow! When measured against this standard, I have to admit I'm not a very patient person. From TV shows to movies, I've been lulled into thinking that even the most difficult problems can be solved within 30-90 minutes. When this fails to be the case in 'real' life, I default to impatient mode.
Case in point. A silly example. I can't understand why so-and-so doesn't get the concept of keeping things cleaned up. There are numerous Bible verses that applaud being a good steward of the things we own and discourage poor stewardship. Isn't the message clear? Maybe if I say it a few more times, it'll sink in. When it doesn't, I can feel my patience wearing thin and my annoyance rising to a dangerously high level. Time to regroup.
Was Rome built in a day? No. And the truth is, I didn't learn everything in a day, either. In fact, as I go about my daily chores, putting clothes away, emptying the dish washer, getting out clean towels, I have to admit that although things look tidy on the surface, some of the closets I open are sadly in need of organization, too. Time to give up on requiring that things be neat and tidy? No. Just time to exercise some patience.
My Heavenly Father is the perfect example of patience. Take a look at the Psalmist, David's, description of Him, "But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth," (Psalm 86:15, KJV). When I think about all the times I've chosen to do things my way, I can only say I'm thankful that He's patient with me!
Because it's part of His nature, He chooses to be patient with people even when they dismiss Him. He desires every person's salvation, and continues reaching out to each one, "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance," (2 Peter 3:9).
As I consider these verses, I realize that the Lord is working to grow patience in me at the same time He's working to grow good stewardship in that other person. Going through frustrating times and difficult circumstances will offer me opportunities to exercise patience. His goal is the same for both of us - growth. And the sooner I realize that growth is an on-going process, the better!
Are you a patient person? If not, you can ask the Lord to develop this fruit of the Spirit in your life beginning today!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank You for the circumstances that You're using to develop patience in my life. Help me to do what's right, maintaining a heart of compassion for others. Thank You for the growth that is sure to follow. In Jesus' name, Amen.