The Greek translation for patience is “long anger.” Patient people have a longer fuse. The rest of us wish we could read a book or absorb in a seminar the hidden key to patience, but there is no secret formula that can produce the desired result. Basically, we need to handle our I-problem (interruptions, inconveniences and irritations). In all of our impatient situations we tend to focus on ourselves—the big “I”. I am concerned about my schedule, my agenda, my feelings, my finances, my time, and on it goes. The Holy Spirit wants to help us get our focus off of ourselves and onto God. When we contemplate the nature and character of God and how patient he has been with us, it begins to alter our perspective and we grow stronger. God wants us to be clothed in patience (Col 3:12).
Col 3:12; 2 Pet 3:9; Ps 2:4; Ps 37:7; Pr 14:29; Pr 14:30; Pr 22:24-25; Pr 31:25
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Col 3:12) The Lord is not slow about his promise as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. (2 Pet 3:9)
Growing in patience requires submission to the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. We need to look to God to get the focus off of ourselves when we grow impatient. Recognize the patience and forgiveness God has offered us. We also need to lean on God. Rather than throwing up our hands in frustration and behaving badly, trust God in the situation (big or small). In big situations seek the counsel of a patient Christian friend who can offer words of wisdom. And also learn to laugh. We often take ourselves and our situations far too seriously. Some of the things that stress us out are SO insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Our Heavenly Father is the ruler of time and the future. He holds it all in the palm of His hands. No matter what comes our way, we can be joyful in knowing that everything is within his control.
How long did God pursue you before you received His salvation? If he had the same level of patience that you do, would you now be a Christian? Or would He have given up on you? What makes you impatient? Do you have a short or long fuse? How does your impatience affect you internally? What affect does it have on those around you (at home, work, play, business)? Do you know someone who is impatient about everything? Do you know someone who has unending patience in everything? Do you have any personal practices that help you maintain a sense of calm in situations where impatience can happen?
Write down a few situations that test your patience. Decide now, what you will do and how you will respond the next time you feel impatience begin to overtake you. Ask God to make you strong through his Spirit. Record your successes and failures over the next week and evaluate how you did. Practice focusing on God and on others rather than on yourself.
Gracious God, thank you for unending patience with me. Thank you for your forgiveness time and time again when I mess up and do things that break your heart. Help me to be strengthened by your Spirit that I may be more gracious and patient with others and that I might reflect your love and patience through my words and actions. In Jesus Name, Amen.