Even the mature and most patient among us have their patience tried by life’s circumstances. But we must take hold of the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ – patience – for it is a key to unlocking the blessings of God.
What circumstance in life tries your patience? For me, it’s driving on the residential streets and country roads of the United Kingdom. They are way too narrow and clogged with parked cars, and there is a continuous weaving between the stationary cars and those that are in motion.
Worse still are the little country lanes, lined with vegetation, that are wide enough for only one car but host two-way traffic. The last thing I want to see is another car coming from the opposite direction or, worse still, a large tractor. Once encountered, either they or I have to back up in a wide space on the side so the other can pass. Recently the lane was so narrow my Kia Sportage barely fit and there was no place to back into if another car came. Yet, the ‘stiff-upper lip’ ‘keep calm and carry on’ Brits take it all in their stride.
Another real-life incident happened to us as our plane landed at its destination. The safety protocol dictates that everyone stays in their seats until the plane comes to a complete stop. On this particular flight, a few passengers got up while the plane was still taxing. Normally, the diligent steward(ess) will politely tell the passengers to be seated. In this case, the amount of ‘transgressors’ was so great that the pilot personally got involved and rebuked the impatient passengers from the cockpit. His words:
Please be seated. Never in aviation history has there been an occasion where the passenger reached the terminal before the plane.
As individuals, we can be patient in many things and tried in a few, but ultimately we need to realise that patience is not only a mark of maturity, but it is key to the promises of God. We can even pray for patience but it often sounds like this: Lord, grant me patience and give it to me now!
That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises — Hebrews 6:12
Note that it is not by faith alone but by ‘faith and patience.’
Amplified Definition of Patience
Patience is steadfastness, constancy, continuance, forbearance, and divinely inspired long-suffering in the face of life and all its challenges.
It does not buckle under but leaps over the hurdles we face.
Patience does not surrender to circumstances but defies, overcomes, and outlasts every obstacle.
We are called to patience because our Heavenly Father is the paragon of patience.
Romans 15:5: Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:
Patience in a Nutshell: To trust God with all your heart at all times and wait on Him.
Patience means to take the ‘long view,’ to be far-sighted and look at the ‘big picture.’ Patience focuses on the forest and not just the trees; the end goal and the road that leads you there; the spiritual reward and not just the temporal.
It is the development of maturity, especially in times of trouble, that positions you for a spiritual breakthrough. James 1:2-4: Tells us to do an incredible thing – count it all joy when we fall into various temptations. To this day I have yet to see someone turn cartwheels because they are entering into a season of trials. Yet there is divine wisdom from James, because the trial of faith develops patience which ripens, matures, completes and perfects. You will lack nothing.
We are exhorted to run the race of faith with patience (Hebrews 12:1). Come to the starting line, get on your track, start running when you hear to gun go off, and keep your eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith (v. 2). With so much distraction and competition, it is tempting the compare oneself with other runners. Yet consider this: no Olympic gold medal winner keeps looking to the runner on the left or the right. They focus on their track, run with all their strength, and keep their eyes on the goal. That’s what we do in the race of faith and the goal is Jesus.
Patience: The Farmer and Job
Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. 8. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. 9. Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door. 10. Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. 11. Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy — James 5:7-11
What do we learn from this passage in James?
- Patience is linked and viewed in the light of the coming of Christ (v. 7).
- The life of a farmer: He works, waters, weeds, and waits.
- We patiently, faithfully, and watchfully wait for Christ’s return (v. 8);
- Do not grumble against one another so you won’t be judged. Patience will spare you a lot of grief. (v. 9);
- Christ is returning to earth as a warrior, king, and judge. He is at the door (v. 9).
- The prophets of the Lord are role models of suffering affliction and patience as they spoke God’s Word to the people (v. 10);
- Happy, not miserable, is the saint of the Lord who patiently endures trials, tribulations, indignities, and reproaches (v. 11). While it seems like nonsense to the carnal mind, it is wisdom in the Spirit realm to be happy, since we are not celebrating the afflictions but the victorious endurance during the affliction: Patience is blossoming and God’s promises are just around the corner.
- You have heard of the patience of Job – and we will learn more from this patient template in our next article.