“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience,”
Insecurity, unhappiness, irritability, frustration are just a few of the conditions that give rise to impatience. It is small wonder then that patience does not appear as the first in the list of the fruit of the Spirit but further down the line. Having known what it is to have little patience we can understand that love, joy and peace become necessary foundations. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 13 Paul tell is that “love is patient.” It is certainly easier to be patient with someone whom you love than with anyone that you do not. However, Paul is talking not of a worldly love but of a love base within us from which the spiritual fruit of patience comes.
There are frequent incidences in Scripture where patience is stressed. In the Psalms the Psalmist says,
• “Be still, and know that I am God; “(Psalm 46:10)
• “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; (Psalm 37:7)
We can only be truly still, or patient, when we know that God is in control and will work things out – both at the level of our individual lives and in the bigger picture as well. To know that He is God, with all that means, gives us the basis on which to wait for Him to act. To wait patiently for Him implies that we know that He will act in a situation, the only question therefore being when and, maybe, how. God works to His own timeframe and not to one dictated by our emotions and perceptions. Whilst waiting for God to respond to his prayers a young man was advised to be patient because ‘God is never late.’ With some feeling he responded, “Yes, but He is not often early either!”
Psalm 37 also tells the reader no less than 3 times in the first 8 verses not to fret and goes on to say that “it leads only to evil.” (v8). Fretting and patience are not companions on the same journey, whilst fretting and impatience are. Fretting takes our attention away from God and His love and power and puts the focus on ourselves, on our perceived needs and on the way we feel.
Whilst choosing to trust God is a decision, patience is more than that – there is a quietness and calmness about it that is not positive thinking but a gift. Opening ourselves to the presence and ministry of the Holy Spirit, and choosing to put our trust in God, makes it possible for the Spirit to work increasingly freely within us and to develop the qualities that are characteristic of a child of God. He leads us into a deeper relationship with the Father, and one in which we learn increasingly to submit ourselves to His great love, wisdom and power.
Ask God to give you patience – right now!!!!?
Father, open my heart and understanding to Your great love, wisdom and power – and help me to quietly trust in You all the time. Amen.