But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things.Galatians 5:22-23
Welcome to week four of the “Fruit of the Spirit” series! Today we will be focusing on patience, but in case you missed the first three, you can find them here:
Just for Fun
Have you ever heard the story of the man who went to God and asked Him if it was true that a thousand years are like a second to Him? God replied:
“Yes, that’s true.”
“And is it true that a million dollars is like a penny?” asked the man.
“That is true.”
“Well, you see, I’m a poor man and I was wondering if I might have one of your pennies?”
“Sure, just give Me a second.”
(I will be patient and give you a second to laugh now 😂)
A Problem with Patience
All of us, no doubt, have been in a situation where we grew impatient and it seemed as though all time had stopped just for us, just for that moment. How is it that a watched pot never boils? A phone within hearing distance never rings? A tracked Amazon package is never delivered?? Of course, all of those are exaggerations and they will eventually happen if one is patient enough (or if one walks away 😂). But being patient, both in the short and long term, is hard.
Why are human beings so impatient? You would think we could handle waiting twenty seconds for a search engine to load, or even two days to get a package in the mail. But if you’re anything like me, nothing is ever fast enough. It’s in our nature to be impatient and to want what we want when we want it.
However, God is on a much larger timeline than we are. We are finite beings, and our lives are quite short in comparison. God is also much wiser than we are. When He tells us in His Word that believers should bear the fruit of patience and that His thoughts and ways are higher than ours, we should–as His children–trust Him enough to slow down and go at His pace.
“Dear friends, don’t let this one thing escape you: With the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord days not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:8-9)
Examples of Patience in the Bible
There are plenty of characters in the Bible who had to wait for what they wanted or what they were promised. Let’s take a look at some of them:
- Noah, building an ark but waiting as many as 100 years for the floodwaters to come
- Abraham, being told he would have a son 25 years before Isaac was born
- Joseph, serving as a slave in Egypt while waiting for God to come through
- Joshua and Caleb, scouting the Promised Land but wandering in the wilderness for 40 years before they could take it
- Ruth, serving Naomi before she could marry Boaz
- Hannah, watching Peninnah enjoy her children while she was childless and waiting on the Lord for Samuel
- David, being anointed king of Israel only to be forced to flee from Saul for years before taking the throne
I’ll stop at seven (because it’s the number of perfection) but I could keep going on and on and on! That list only gets us through the first ten or so books of the Bible.
I want us to notice what most of these people have in common: they didn’t sit around and pout while waiting for stuff to happen. They got busy building arks, letting God use them even while in prison, and respecting their predecessors simply because they were the Lord’s anointed. (And yes, Abraham did get impatient and take the situation into His own hands. There were consequences for that). But each person who trusted God and went on with their life as He instructed received what they were promised (or at least a foreshadowing, anyway, as in Abraham’s case). It is up to us how we react during a season of waiting, but I believe God rewards faithfulness and diligence.
What would have happened if Noah had procrastinated and not built the ark in time for the flood? If Ruth had decided to remarry right away instead of caring for Naomi? If Hannah had continued to pity herself and be jealous of Peninnah instead of praying? These people got busy while they were waiting so they were ready when the time came.
Good things come to those who wait, but only what’s left from those who hustle!
Whether you’re waiting for something relatively insignificant (such as your lunch in the mircowave) or something much bigger (such as healing or even the Rapture) we can learn a lesson from these people: we need to hustle in the meantime. Let’s not sit around and be idle, wasting time while we wait. But let’s look at the situation we currently find ourselves in and hop to work where we are.
We don’t want to sit around and wait for the bridegroom (the promise) to come only to find that we don’t have enough oil in our lamps to burn through the banquet (Matthew 25:1-13).
We don’t want to let a moment pass us by only to find out in hindsight that it was the moment we had been waiting for.
We need to be faithful where we are so God can bless us later.
Patience Starts in Our Minds
As I’ve been going through the fruits of the Spirit and writing these articles, a common theme that I’ve realized is that they all start in our minds. We need to be a Spirit-minded people so that these fruits can grow in us and be manifest in our lives. Patience is no different.
Now, as I’ve thought through this, I’ve realized that what we set our minds on depends on what it is we are waiting for. If we are waiting for lunch, or a letter from our pen pal, or a certain day of the week, it might be best to simply distract ourselves and think about other things. Again, a watched pot never boils.
However, when it comes to waiting for Christ’s return, the Bible actually instructs us to do the opposite. We aren’t supposed to distract ourselves or try to forget, but instead we are to daily remind ourselves of the promise.
“Therefore, with your minds ready for action, be sober-minded and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:13, emphasis mine).
I think patience is best obtained by setting our minds on things above–by reminding ourselves that God’s timetable is much more organized than ours–by remembering what God has promised while also being ready for action in the here and now. I think that, as Christians, we can have a great patience because we have a great hope in a great God Who has given us a great promise.
Make It Real
I’m sorry if it seems like I’m getting off-track and going down rabbit trails (I seem to have a knack for that), but I wanted to take the time to address the fact that Rome was not built in a day.
The past eight days have been so much fun because I participated in Crazy Writing Week! I wrote over 11,000 words total from Tuesday to Tuesday (some of them being for this blog post) and I’m excited to be able to say that my novel work-in-progress has hit 30k! It’s been a long time since I started writing it: I’ve been working on this particular draft since November but I’ve had the idea for the basis of the story since eighth grade (I just graduated tenth). I’ve had to have a lot of patience with myself to get this far!
But something I’ve been trying to learn over the past year or so is that anything worthwhile is worth waiting for. And anything worthy of achievement is worth fighting for. We have to ask ourselves: is what I’m pursuing worth my time? Is it enough of a priority that I’m willing to wait for it?
I had to run several times a week for nearly four months before I ran my first 5k. It’s taken me roughly three years to get this far in my novel. But I am where I am now because I stuck it out (ok, so I haven’t really been running since the start of quarantine, but you get my point). God rewards faithfulness, even if the results seem slow in coming. If the object of our hope (our waiting) is worthy, then it should be worth the wait.
What is one step toward your desired destination that you can commit to taking today? What can you do to be a more patient person?
I hope you found this post helpful and encouraging, and that you will join me for the next one: kindness. I can’t wait to share my thoughts with you! (We will have to be patient and wait until next week though 😉 ).
Until next time y’all, God bless ❤