Galatians 5:22-23 tells us the Fruits of the Spirit. “Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines patience/patient as:
1: bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint
2: manifesting forbearance under provocation or strain
3: not hasty or impetuous
4: steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity
Twenty-First Century Christians define patience/patient as:
1. something to never ask God for
2. a form of twisted punishment
3. a fruit of the Spirit we memorized as children
4. an unrealistic feeling while waiting in line at Starbucks
Why is it that a secular dictionary I found on Google has a better understanding of what patience truly is than we do? We are the Church after all! Aren’t we supposed to be experts on the Word? Well, not necessarily. Everybody is going to have a different understanding and perspective when reading the Bible, however our perversion of the word PATIENCE is something to be dealt with.
My entire life, I’ve heard the phrase “don’t pray for patience, or God might give it to you.” The suggestion being that if God grants the patience you pray for, He then will dish out plenty of obstacles and trials to exercise your new found patience. Therefore, my entire life I have had a confusing definition of patience. I know that the in the Bible it says that “patience” is a Fruit of the Spirit that I would produce, because I was a Christian. Although, much of the time I did not feel “patient.” In fact, I have felt impatient much of my life. I have felt like I’ve just been stuck in the middle. Waiting. Waiting on the big things. Waiting on my coffee. Waiting to reach 5 feet tall. Never praying for patience, for fear of more WAITING. I associated patience with waiting, waiting with anticipation and anticipation with disappointment. My perception of patience was completely off base. Not what God had intended for me at all. Yes, even ME. The Girl in the Church Pants. This self-proclaimed “know-it-all” had it wrong.
Praying for patience does not cause God to enact some sinister plan to torture you. Actually that might describe someone else. When you pray for patience, God gives you contentedness in the waiting. He gives you strength to endure the time passing. He does not add more obstacles to your life to test you. God loves you and gives you grace and mercy to be able to face any obstacle. Whether you’re waiting to hear back about a new job or simply frustrated at the busyness of the mall during Christmas time. 2 Peter 3:9 Says “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.” And Hebrews 10:23 says “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.” Remember who it is that made these promises to you. The One who will never leave or forsake you.