Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.
There are many things that the very young and the very old have in common. One of those things may be how difficult it is to be patient when we are dependent on others to meet our needs or fulfill our desires.
The less control we have over what happens to us and when, the harder it can be to face each day with a patient attitude. For example, it’s hard to be patient when you have requested help with a chore and no one arrives in a timely fashion, or when your coffee is cold and no one offers to warm it up for you. While these may seem like mere inconveniences, they tend to add up and try our patience until we have lost it entirely by the end of the day!
Adding to our impatience is the fact that we live in an impatient world. Increasingly, our culture is one of “wanting what we want, when we want it.” That philosophy doesn’t always work when we are living in community with others or depending on others for our care and amenities. We even have to be patient with family members who promise to visit but then have other commitments intervene.
In short, being patient is difficult. And it’s downright impossible without an attitude of humility and of forgiveness for the failings of others. What helps more than anything is remembering that all things happen in God’s time, and that while we may grow weary waiting for Him, His timing is always right, and He will never be late.
The reason many people find patience so hard to achieve is because patience is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). In other words, we can only be patient once we have allowed the Holy Spirit to indwell us. Oswald Chambers wrote, “Jesus Christ does not give us power to work up a patience like His own. His patience is manifested if we will let His life dwell in us.”
Over the course of a lifetime, we have ample opportunities to become impatient—with ourselves, with God, and with others. The Bible clarifies that we are to be patient with situations that are out of our control. That sort of patience is more frequently termed endurance. But God always makes relationship to people a higher priority than circumstances. The Bible also instructs that we are to be patient with one another, since none of us is perfect. When we are impatient with people chances are we are also judging them, which once again puts us out of God’s will.
We can’t clothe ourselves with patience unless we are also willing to forgive whatever grievances we have against someone else. Forgiveness frees us from the sin of bitterness, and we all know it’s impossible to be patient if we are bitter. So being patient isn’t something we can do without adopting a few other attitudes, too, is it? We can only succeed at being patient when we discipline ourselves to stop judging others and ourselves. We have to replace judgment with forgiveness. Only then will patience flourish in our spirits and in our lives.
As we age, we can sometimes become impatient with God, too. “Lord, when will this pain go away?” we might ask, or even “When will You decide it’s my time to go to heaven and be with You?” And yet we can rest in the knowledge that God’s timing is always perfect, even when it isn’t our timing. We can have patience when we have total trust in Him.
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What are some ways you practice patience?
by Nancey Brummette
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Nancy Parker Brummett first led a Bible study in an assisted living setting in 1999 and she and the Lord developed The Hope of Glory in the years that followed. She also journeyed with her mother and mother-in-law through their adventures in aging, and her academic interest in aging led her to receive the Professional Certificate of Gerontology from the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs. The author of four other books, she now focuses her writing and speaking ministries on her passion for older adults and those who care for them. To learn more about Nancy’s life and work or to subscribe to her blog on aging issues, Take My Hand Again, visit her website.