I am among the throngs of people who wake up to an immediate feeling of being late, tired, frustrated, knowing what I should do yet always doing what I do. Occasional Hulk-like blasts of self-efforted, exceptional efficiency dot my track record. Our culture values such soul-numbing things.
I think about patience. This is not such a value today. Hustle, grind, being the boss, accomplishment, credit – these are obvious values of our culture now. It’s in our conversations, in the kaleidoscope of “pump-you-up” articles we post and read and repost, in our role models, in our behavior. But then there is patience. Quiet. Steady. Not easily noticed, not anything anyone readily gets credit for.
I need more of this fruit of Holy Spirit in my life. Patience with myself, as I am constantly aware of my “not being enough,” not pleasing enough, not getting it right, not doing what I ought do. Ecclesiastes 7:8 says, “The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.” It is in spirit, from the inside out. It is first feasting ourselves on that which Jesus offers to us, and then appropriating that patience outwardly.
Patience with my circumstances. Some are unchangeable, out of our control completely. Some we get into out of choices – obedience or disobedience – and even then we wait for, or must walk through, the natural fruit of our choices. To be patient with my circumstances is to recognize God’s providence. It is peace in knowing there is journey still ahead of me (“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope!”) It is peace for the now. “Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains.” (James 5:7) “But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” (Romans 8:25)
To be patient towards others, because they, like me, may be feeling a lot less-than, listening to the devil’s lies about things. It manifests in everyone differently. To offer patience is to love. It is to recognize humanness, to be on the same side together, “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2) It is to offer that which we ourselves need to be offered, over and over again.
Patience is active, not passive. It is not merely not caring. It is deciding to long-suffer. It is not a change of immediate feelings towards the person or situation, but feeling that way and constantly handing over the reigns of our control, our need to change things or people to better suit ourselves, and to suffer long until God presses out the fine oil of His plans being worked out all around and inside of us. “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
Patience, though quiet and unseen, yields a truer treasure.