Patience in the Waiting
People have toyed with the idea of praying for patience for years because it’s one prayer they often quickly see answered, though usually in a way they’d not prefer. It is noted by the people praying for it that they underwent various trials afterwards which they likened as their answer. When people pray for patience it’s because they are annoyed by or tired of a situation, greatly anticipating something, or to overcome an obstacle.
Have you ever prayed for patience? Do you remember why you wanted it? If so, what was the result?
I used to think of patience in a negative sense. Most of us struggle with it. It’s something we know we need but few of us actually want to have. We’d rather receive good things quickly and have hard things disappear that day. It would be easier if we didn’t have to wait. But is patience just waiting for something or is there more to it?
I came to know Biblical patience by the definitions of enduring or longsuffering. An article by Christianity Today put it this way,
“to be patient is to endure discomfort without complaint” – James S. Spiegel
With that definition in mind, patience is far more than just a waiting game. It is worked out and grown through the hard times of life. It is learning to receive difficulties and see them through a different lens than the world looks at them.
We know as Christians that the trials of this life are temporary. There will be an end to them which is why we can have peace and hope in the truth of Jesus and the gospel message. Patience can then be achieved when we apply these truths to our hard times. With our knowledge that every trial will have an end, there is greater possibility that we can be patient in the process because we know it won’t defeat us. Therefore, patience truly is a virtue and an honourable trait to have.
It is very easy to justify complaining in hard times. We know that this world was created sinless and will return to that state one day. So, our souls wrestle with it in the meantime. With Holy Spirit residing in His believers, He prompts our hearts to resist evil and anything outside of the goodness of God. We also know that the world hates Jesus. Therefore, it will come against us in life in order to try and discourage us and make us question our Lord. This leaves us with a choice. Will we choose to wait patiently and give our difficulties to the Lord or will we fall into our old worldly ways and complain to everyone but the Lord about our woes? It’s not actually an easy decision to make most times.
So, do you pray for patience or avoid it in fear of what might come?
I heard someone explain that we should focus on praying for more of the Holy Spirit in our lives than praying for one ‘fruit of the Spirit’ at a time. This is because Holy Spirit knows what we need most. For example, we may think we need more patience when in reality we need self-control. The more we give Him room to work, the more He will give us these beautiful God-given attributes. The Lord’s desire is for a relationship with us. He is a good Father who gives His children wonderful gifts. As we grow and develop into the people He desires us to be, the more He’ll equip us with what we need to do the task.
Don’t get me wrong, I still pray for specific characteristics here and there. For example, we’re told to pray for more of God’s wisdom in James 1. But I do see value in how this person focused his/her prayers on God Himself more than His characteristics.
Patience is a complex characteristic. It isn’t something that stands alone among the others. In fact, most Godly attributes don’t. They are interconnected with others in order to make them strong. Wisdom is paired with understanding and often discernment. Joy, grace, and peace can be intertwined. Patience can be a blend of self-control, generosity, and humility.
Patience is most often needed in context with other people. You might be waiting for someone to realize or learn something. You may be waiting for a country, government, family, or person to change. It’s harder to have patience when you’re waiting for someone than something. You could possibly do things to bring change to a situation, but when the issue is with other people, you have to wait on them and the Lord to fix it. This is where self-control, generosity, and humility come in.
It takes great self-control to guard your mouth against complaining or showing your anger and frustration with the other person. It takes generosity to increase your help and service with the person or situation you’re dealing with. It takes humility to lower yourself and your standards and wait for the other person to grow and develop greater understanding and healing.
Patience causes a softening of your heart and reminds you that you can trust the Lord to help you through. It allows you the freedom to take your eyes off the circumstances and onto Jesus because you know that He has something special for you in this time. There’s something He wants to share with you in order for you to grow and fall in love with Him more.
Patience will work itself out as the Spirit desires within you. Look to Jesus and trust Him to do what only He can in you. It’ll come in time.
Here’s the link to the article I read from Christianity Today about the Virtue of Patience: https://www.christianitytoday.com/biblestudies/articles/spiritualformation/virtue-of-patience.html