Today as I was traveling on the freeway I witnessed an example of impatience at work, and the danger of giving way to such a trait. There was a small gap between cars in the next lane to us, and people were merging into these very small spaces, causing the other vehicles already in the lane to have to brake suddenly, which could have easily resulted in an accident. The car in front of us decided this type of merging was a good idea and proceeded to “squeeze” into a space in the lane next to us. However the driver of the car towing a trailer obviously did not agree, as they angrily tailgated the offending vehicle all the way down the freeway as punishment for their impatient merging. This incident clearly revealed that patience, and the accompanying character traits of humility, generosity and self control were not high on the priority list of those driving today.
The old adage “patience is a virtue” is one most of us are familiar with. But what is patience, and what does it look like?
A definition of patience is “waiting without complaint”. And there are many times where we have the opportunity to exercise patience in life. From waiting to be old enough to do something or go somewhere, waiting for promotion, giving ourselves time to gain an education or to learn new skills, taking the time to save financially, waiting to meet your partner, waiting for a child to be born, waiting for the right time, the right place and the right “God moment”. Life is full of waiting, and it’s the art of waiting without complaint that most of us often lack. Instead we exhibit the opposite trait of impatience, which far too often manifests in us as complaining, grumpiness, anger, and lack of self-control.
But God has a better way. He wants us to trust Him, and know that He always has the best in mind for us. I’ve discovered that God’s best can take a little more time and organising on God’s behalf before it arrives in our life than we would usually like, but that’s where patience goes to work. Without patience we can give up, will consider letting go of our hopes and dreams, and will easily get into doubt, disbelief and impatient complaining.
Perhaps that’s because the root of our impatience is more often than not fear. Fear that God doesn’t care or even sees us, fear that things won’t work out; that we will fail or be left alone, and that our dreams and prayers won’t eventuate. When we allow fear to dictate our emotions and thoughts, we can easily grow impatient, because we start to believe the worst, and the negative. Faith and fear are opposites, so where there is fear, our faith isn’t operating as it should, and patient is not at work.
The bible talks about patience and our faith working together. We can set out believing God for that great job, partner, holiday, new baby, or just a parking spot on a hectic day at the shops. But unless we exercise patience – “waiting without complaint”, then our faith often won’t work. We undo our prayers and believing by our negative, impatient words of complaint. It’s by faith and patience working together that we receive.
“We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.”(Hebrews 6:12)
There is however an answer to our impatience! It is in drawing near to God, and reading what He has to say in His word, the bible. The closer we are to Him, the more patient we become. The more we know and meditate on His word, the more faith we have. The more faith we have, the more we trust Him, and the more patient we become. Patience is one of the offshoots, or as the bible calls it fruits of having a growing healthy relationship with God.
“Come near to God and he will come near to you.” (James 4:8)
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
Today if you are struggling with impatience, and all the character issues that go along with that, don’t give up. Don’t give in to the temptation to let go of your dreams and the things you are believing and praying for. Spend some time with Jesus, and allow His love and kindness to heal your disappointments and negativity. Let His Word sink in and encourage and renew your thinking, and strengthen your faith. If you continue to take the time every day to do that, you’ll soon discover that the fruit of patience will have started to grow in your life, as it undergirds your faith to “wait patiently without complaining.”
Prayer: Lord thank you that you have a plan and purpose for all my life. Help me to keep trusting you for the best in my life. and to not give up because it may be taking longer than I would like. Help me to wait patiently, trusting that you have it all under control. In Jesus Name Amen.