Day 13: On Patience
“Love is patient…” 1 Corinthians 13:4
Oh, we’ve all heard this line (and have probably said it too): “Whatever you do, don’t pray for patience.” It’s said with the implication that praying for patience means you’re about to get slammed with all sorts of opportunities to be impatient. But, obviously God wants us to be patient. Just like everything else, we have to practice and develop walking in this aspect of God’s love. We don’t even have to pray for God to give us patience, because it’s already been put inside our hearts (see Day 3). We just have to choose to walk in the Spirit instead of the flesh.
Now let’s talk about the world’s view of patience. The world sees patience as not losing your cool. While that’s sort of correct, the world also thinks that it’s okay to have a breaking point—that you only have to be patient till you just can’t stand for it anymore. Or, if someone blows their top at you, then it’s perfectly okay to ditch patience and let them have it! Thing is, if this is how God’s patience worked, then we’d be toast. Let’s face it—if God were as “patient” as we are, humankind would have ceased to exist long ago.
Many translations of the Bible use the word “longsuffering” instead of patience. If you’re like me, there is a tendency there to read that and think “So, patience means suffering for a long time. Ugh.” But that’s not quite right. While God’s kind of patience will hold out as long as it needs to, there’s so much more to it than just biting your tongue for a while. In the Greek, the word means, “to be of a long spirit,” “to persevere patiently in enduring misfortunes and troubles,” and “to be mild and slow in avenging.”
This adds such a different color to the word “patience” doesn’t it? For me, it adds a layer of gutsiness. (Is that a word? Google says yes.)
Friend, let me tell you that you can feel as upset and as hurt as anyone can feel and still yield to patience. You can be a microsecond away from yelling at the top of your lungs and yet still decide to follow that patience dwelling in your heart.
Let’s look at some other Scriptures on God’s patience. As you read, realize that we magnify, appreciate, and praise God for being as merciful and full of love for us as He is, but yet the world has convinced us that it’s being a “pushover” or “naïve” when humans act this way. So, let’s get a different mindset here.
But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth. Psalm 86:15
God is full of compassion, graciousness, longsuffering, and abundant in mercy and truth. What a mouthful, and what a big God. Wow. That’s who’s living inside of you!
The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. Psalm 103:8
This one adds in the fact that God is slow to anger, which reminds me of another verse in the book of James:
So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath… James 1:19
Just like anything, the more you practice the patience God has placed in your heart, the easier and more “second nature” it will become. Yelling and crying and screaming and getting offended were all of the actions you learned before, and it will take time for God’s way to become the norm.
Read more about God’s patience by searching your concordance for “patient” and “patience.”