Many people proclaim, “I don’t pray for patience because God will put me in a position to require it!”
No doubt, some of us have sympathies with this sentiment. No one likes to be put off or have to wait in a liminal space. No one likes to wait. However, patience is a beautiful human expression that all of us want, but few of us are willing to participate in what it takes to develop it. It is a character trait born out of who God is and out of our trust in him. It isn’t easy to acquire.
In St. Paul’s comments to the Galatians, he says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (emphasis added).
Patience, then, is born from the Spirit at work in and through us. The purpose is for us to be more patient, reflecting for the rest of the world the character of God. He is patient, a trait for which I am sure all of us are grateful.
To have patience, you must have trust. Trust, I find, is more difficult to obtain.
Trust is synonymous with ‘belief’ or ‘faith’; terms many Christians often use but practice less.
Trust is earned. Trust is delicate and is subject to bouts of amnesia. Trust is a prerequisite to patience.
Most are willing to endure waiting if they believe, or have trust, that the result will be worth it. It is that belief and trust that matters most. There is no reason for patience when a process doesn’t produce what you are hoping for; you will simply end the waiting. But if we believe the result is something better, healthier, or a ‘win’ in some way, we endure.
The hard part is that we never know.
We can never be sure about the outcomes of our patience. There is no way to see into the future and tell everything will be worth it or that everything will work out the way we long for.
Because of this, we must trust, and trust is hard.
Trust, by its nature, is not trust until it is all we have. It is what we put our hopes in, like a parachute, if it isn’t there, neither are we.
Consider this; we are residing on a rock orbiting around the sun at nearly 70,000 mph. This rock spins at roughly 1,000 mph. Other items are flying around us in this space that has and will collide with us, making life a tenuous adventure.
We trust this without consideration. It is so far outside our ability to control that we have to trust. There is nothing we can do about any of it.
The truth is, our lives are no different. We can’t control anything. The problem lies when we believe we can somehow control our lives. These efforts amount to trying to slow the world from spinning or our orbit around the sun. Because we lack control, we must trust.
So, what do we put our trust in? In ourselves, our abilities, the goodness of humanity?
Are we willing to trust that we are in the hands of a loving God? The Scriptures say he is determined to “…work all things together for the good, for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purposes?” Do we actually believe that he will not leave us or forsake us?
If that is the case, and he is good, we can have patience. Trusting the Lord in the midst of great pain, uncertainty, and even disaster produces patience that looks like Jesus. Not just a façade, but a deep and abiding character that patiently trusts the Lord and his work. May we trust with all we have so that our brothers and sisters in Christ, and those who have yet to know him, may know that he is worthy of their trust and love and that he is a God of patience.