Monday, August 27, 2012

Patience Anyone?

             A few years ago, I prayed for patience, and was told by some of my fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord to “never pray for patience.” I was a new believer and did as they asked, never praying for patience again. One day, however, I needed His patience more than anything, so I prayed, “Lord, give me patience.” As I prayed this prayer the words of my brothers and sisters came to me, and I prayed, “Oops, I didn’t mean to pray for patience.” The Lord clearly asked me that day, “Why not pray for patience, are you not willing to go through what you need to, to receive patience?” Those words stung my heart. I realized by not praying for patience, I was actually telling the Lord Jesus that I would rather not be like Him, because I didn’t want to have to suffer to get the patience I was in desperate need of.
                Many of us have struggled with patience, with waiting for something that we want now; it is part of our walk with Jesus, to learn and to bear the fruit of patience. But many times, we would rather not go through the trials and the struggles we need to for that particular fruit. This brings me to the scripture passages that I read today, and reminded me of the patient hope that I have been given, and the rejoicing that I will take part in when the fulfillment of that patience has come. I was blessed by the comfort that came through patience, and sad that too many times I passed by this comfort, all because I did not want to pray for patience. Patience is not a bad word, although, I think we have made it one. Patience is Christ, patience is Love, and patience is desperately needed in our daily lives.
“For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus; that you may with one mind and one mouth, glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 15:4-6
                We have been given the key to patience and the comfort patience brings every time we open our bibles and read God’s word. As I studied and pondered on patience, I found that there are two definitions of this word. The first definition of patience is “great forbearance under suffering caused by other people.” (Encyclopedia of the Bible) When we are being mistreated, used and caused pain by others, we have been given the patience to endure it. I know I have found myself many times wanting to defend myself against these attacks, but as I spend time with my Lord in His word, I see that He is my warrior and He fights for me- I do not need to fight back, I need to patiently endure and let Him be my defender.
Throughout the Old Testament there are stories written for our benefit. When we are faced with these trials and troubles and hurts caused by others, we can run to His word and be comforted through the experience. Too many times, however, I took matters into my own hands and instead of trusting and patiently relying on His help; I struck back and caused the situation to become worse. I am sure all of us at some point have had that happen. Paul is telling us that “whatever things were written before were written for our learning”, nothing is written in God’s word by chance. There is a purpose and a reason for every single letter- and we have been given the tools we need to overcome with patience the hurts of others who attack us.
The second definition for patience was “endurance and steadfastness though kept waiting for a long time by God.” (Encyclopedia of the Bible) I have just recently experienced this kind of patience. For a whole year I held onto a promise that Lord God had given me. I waited, and I waited. I waited for a few weeks; I waited for a few months. Sometimes I failed in my patient endurance and would get worried and upset that maybe He had forgotten. But through His holy word, I would be reminded of the promise, and He would tell me to wait, to have patience, because He is faithful to fulfill His word to me. There were times, however, that I wanted to scream for having to wait so long. But He was ever patient and faithful to remind me that in His time, all would come to pass, all I needed to do was wait.
When those moments of impatience would overtake me, what did I do? I ran to His word. I read of Abraham, who waited for the promise of Isaac, I read about David who was anointed King, but had to wait for the right time to become King. I read of all the Old Testament people who were given promises by God, but were kept waiting for the fulfillment of them. It was through the Scriptures that I found the patience and the comfort to keep pressing forward.
Patience is used 25 times in the bible, Old and New Testament. Patience is not only a fruit of the spirit, and something we all as Christians need in our lives, but it is also a character trait of God and Jesus. Patience is magnified in God, and through Christ, and we as Christians are expected to model that same patience in our daily walks. I would love to be able to tell you that I am patient with all my brothers and sisters, that I am patient with my husband and children that I am patient in trials and tribulations, I am patient in the promises of God, but I am not. In fact, patience is not a word I would use to describe myself. I have a hard time waiting for people, and I have hard time waiting for God. But I have learned through the years that it is something I need, and it is something God wants me to have. So how do I learn patience? How do we begin to let patience have a work in our lives?
First, we let go of our own expectations and let God lead our lives. We let go of what we think is right and best, and we trust that God knows and will make all things work together for our good. No matter what is coming against us, no matter who is against us, we stand steadfast in the hope that our God has it all under control. Secondly, we open our bibles and we learn from those who have walked this way before. We learn from Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, the children of Israel and we learn how to walk in patient endurance, just as they did. (Hebrews 11)
Lastly, we stand. We stand upon the promises of God, His word, His work on the cross and in our lives. We allow Him to be for us, we allow Him to lead us, and we allow Him to chasten us and to give us what we need, when we need it. Patience is not just waiting for something, or enduring something, patience is a character trait of a Christian “who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to even the greatest trials and sufferings.” (Thayer’s Lexicon). Patience comes to us when we allow the God of patience to work in us. God is patient with us, His love for us is steadfast toward us, patience endures, patience does not lose hope, and patience stands upon the promises of God and says, “No, I will believe God and nothing or no one else.”
The next time you go to pray for patience, stop and think about who is patient and who is steadfast and pray to be just like Him, Jesus Christ. He modeled patience for us, and everything we need, everything we desire, everything we seek is found within the pages of our bibles. May we be like-minded, in all patience, and hope, while we wait for the coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. May the God of all patience and comfort give you what you need as you wait for His return. Amen and amen.
*(Scriptures on Patience for further study: Romans 12:12; 2 Timothy 2:24; James 5:7-8)