This Is How To Have Patience
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. James 1:5
Do you ever feel like the person who prayed, “God, give me patience, and give it to me right now”? You may feel like that at the present moment. You have been facing a particular situation or irritation day after day, hour after hour, and you feel like you cannot stand it another day. You are thinking, “I’m up to my chin and I just can’t take more of this.” It could be your husband or your wife, possibly the person you work with. It could be your teenager, or if you are a teenager, it may be your mom or dad! There are times which confront us all when we feel our ire building, and we know that we have reached the danger zone of what we can handle. It’s the red alert.
What’s the answer? Walk out? Tell them off? Hit the ceiling and maybe the person who bothers you? Respond in kind to what bothers you? No, that only compounds the problem. Anybody can quit. Anybody can cut loose and paint the air blue. Today’s guidelines are dedicated to you who feel the pressures and irritations of daily living and aren’t quite sure how to make patience a part of your personality. In the next three minutes, take a break from what you are doing because these remaining three minutes could possibly change your life from failure to real success.
First, may I suggest that real patience–the kind described in the Bible–isn’t the thought of idly sitting on your hands while you get stomped on, doormat fashion. The word that the writers of Scripture used to describe patience is the Greek word makrothumia. It is uniformly translated long-suffering, patience, or steadfastness. But the idea behind the word is holding steady in the face of opposition. It is a strong word denoting control in difficult times.
It was used of a soldier who was holding an outpost, and when he was under attack he stood his ground unflinchingly. The word was used to describe Christ, who held steady under the pressure and opposition of the apostate religious leaders instead of lashing out in defiance and anger. The word was used by the Apostle Paul to describe the work of God the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer. Paul writes to the Galatians, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, patience…”(Galatians 5:22). And there you have it.
For a moment mentally step back from your problem or situation and try to look at your irritation or problem objectively. Holding steady for a period of time will help you to act rather than react to the pressures of a crisis. What you do without thinking on the spur of the moment is seldom right. If you pause for a few moments, or a few days, the situation may right itself; and, again, if it doesn’t, waiting gives you time to think through the situation. Then what you do is really calculated, thought through–not a knee-jerk reaction to some jerk who really got to you. Waiting saves regrets later on.
Holding steady for the moment also gives you the opportunity to take the upward look, asking God for wisdom. The Bible contains God’s promise, “If any lack wisdom, let him ask of God who gives wisdom generously and does not chide our stupidity” (James 1:5).
A final thought: Patience doesn’t mean that you have to like the circumstances; rather, it means you find the grace to await God’s time without sinning or making a fool of yourself. Someone put it like this: “Christian patience is the ability to keep your motor idling when you feel like stripping your gears.” Yes, God, we need patience, and right now.
Resource reading: James 1:2-12.