Talk to the average mom with little children and this word will probably come up during your conversation. I've heard it before! “Oh, I just wish I had more patience!” “I could always use a little patience.” “I need more patience!”
It’s true that our children (and siblings) tend to stretch us in these areas. (But keep in mind too, that we are probably the cause of someone else’s patients stretching as well!)
In fact, my mother (an only child) said that when she was growing up, she thought of herself as a really patient person. Until she had children!
So, how do we guard ourselves against this temptation to respond unkindly?
As usual, we must first define what patience is and then in turn, we must discover what it isn’t.
The word patience means:
The opposite of patience is:
We live in a world where the lack of patience is constantly being catered to.
Products are invented in order to make our lives easier and to cut out the extra useless time we spend waiting.
Microwaves, dishwashers, cars. All these things were made to shorten our “wait” time so we can get things finished quickly.
And in some cases, this definitely isn’t a bad thing. But since we’ve now received a taste of what “quick life” is like, it’s hard to go back.
Having to creep along in our cars during rush hour tends to frustrate people and cause them to get angry. Because why on earth is it called “rush hour” when nothing’s moving?!
Every time I see a driver upset because they’re having to wait a few extra minutes, my mind always goes back to the 1800s, when stagecoaches were the town’s most popular mode of outside transportation.
A family rushes around making sure everything is ready for their trip. Animals taken care of, baby’s things packed, grandma has her knitting needles. They rush to the town’s only restaurant, which also serves as the hotel, and eagerly await the stagecoach's coming. The owner of this establishment comes out only to relay the information that they missed the stagecoach by a mere few minutes. “Oh,” the father shrugs, trying to tone down his disappointment, “we’ll catch it next month.”
You see, people back then didn’t have instant access to the internet, or the ability to warm their food up in thirty seconds flat.
If they missed the stagecoach, they had to wait an entire month for the next one!
These people knew well about the virtue of patience even without consciously thinking about it.
What are a few scriptures that talk about patience?
"Be always humble, gentle, and patient. Show your love by being tolerant with one another."
"Hot tempers cause arguments, but patience brings peace."
"Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles, and pray at all times."
"I waited patiently for the Lord’s help;
then he listened to me and heard my cry."
"The Lord is good to everyone who trusts in him,
So it is best for us to wait in patience—to wait for him to save us--
And it is best to learn this patience in our youth."
Now that we've defined what patience is and isn't and the different scriptures concerning this fruit of the spirit, what are some ways that we can welcome patience into our lives?
- Don’t rush through day to day tasks, but take joy in them, doing them thoroughly to serve God rather than man.
- If something happens that slows down your plans, use that time to take a deep breath and enjoy those few moments of peacefulness.
- If you’re stuck in traffic and find yourself growing irritable, try thinking of it this way; if you trust God’s will and desire for your life, and you trust that He holds the future in His hands, then you won’t mind that you’re sitting in traffic. Because who knows, God might be saving you from an accident that you may have otherwise gotten into if the traffic had been fine.
- If you find yourself being unkind and irritable to your sibling or child and responding with haste, then use the “count to five” rule. This trick results in two things; one, you’ll have a moment to cool off and usually determine that it wasn’t as catastrophic as you thought it was. And two, it gives you a moment to think about your response and whether it could be hurtful to that person.
Let’s try something this week. Let’s all determine to make a conscience effort to hold our tongues and respond patiently to everyone we come in contact with.
And keep in mind that if Jesus could patiently endure the torture He went through by giving His life on the cross, then we, as His children, can take the time to respond kindly to one another when we aren’t treated the way we think we should be treated.
With humble hearts, let’s all strive to become more like Christ and take these things to heart.
Let's all be joyful, willing, servants of our King.