“God, I need patience, and I need it now!”
Been there. Done that. Got the t-shirt. Then discovered that’s not how it works at all.
Most Christians subscribe to the somewhat facetious statement, “Don’t pray for patience.”
That statement is telling in that it shows how we think about God and His dealings in our life. It also shows why we are so slow to adapt to His ways.
God is not some cosmic genie just waiting around to fulfill our next self-centered request. We tend to think that if we pray for patience, then we will somehow see patience show up in our lives. And when it doesn’t, we develop the extremely faulty (and lop-sided) theology that “God sometimes says, No.”
The truth of the matter is that God said, Yes to your request for patience.
He gave you a parking lot on the freeway on the one day you were late for work.
He gave you a crowded store with only three bumbling cashiers open for service.
He gave you a flat tire in the pouring rain.
He gave you your little precious smearing “chocolate pudding” all over the bathroom.
He gave you your bank deposit disappearing into the ether.
And the list goes on and on, ad infinitum, ad nauseum.
Patience is a part of character. Impatience is also a part of character–or shows a lack of character. Aspects of what we call “character” are developed over time, not instantaneously manifested.
Gold in its raw form is hardly recognizable. It must be heated and hammered and separated from all that which is not gold in order for its true beauty to shine forth.
Likewise, patience is not demonstrated when all is going smoothly in your life. True patience is the quality needed in each of the scenarios listed above. Those situations are specifically designed for you to learn how to develop patience.
Pick any one of those listed, or recall your own situation from the recent past, and see how patience could have served you.
Better yet, look at how impatience serves you. Does getting upset and yelling solve the situation? Does that behavior make you happy, make you feel good? Does drumming your fingers on the counter help or hinder the cashier? Does yelling at the bank clerk find your money any faster? Does inching up on the driver in front of you make the light change any quicker? Wouldn’t exercising patience help everyone involved breathe a little easier?
Patience is not merely waiting for something. It is waiting without anxiety, without nervousness.
Patience, then, calls for that character quality we looked at earlier–self-control.
Exercising patience can bring peace to a stressful situation. Exercising patience will take the edge off people’s attitudes. When you can show patience in a situation, you help calm the nerves of those around you. When you help calm the nerves of those around you, they can get their job done better. When they can get their job done better, things will go more smoothly. When things begin to go more smoothly, you no longer need to be patient. When you no longer need to exercise patience, you will be happier.
And, after all…isn’t that really why you are drumming your fingers? You just want to be happy, don’t you?
A spiritual person realizes that everything in this life is only temporary and will soon pass. Therefore, a spiritual person has patience.
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