By Rachel Olsen
"We also pray that you will be strengthened with his glorious power so that you will have all the patience and endurance you need." Colossians 1:11 (NLT)
In a heart that values instant gratification like mine does, patience seems hard to come by.
In the last several weeks I've raced through a yellow light because I didn't want to wait at a red light. I've looked up my symptoms on the internet because I didn't want to sit in a doctor's waiting room. I've paid extra for an item off the internet because I didn't want to stand in line at the store. I've also eaten dessert first, because I didn't want to wait until it was "time" for dessert. (I think anytime is a good time for dessert!) Though I can't recall a specific instance, odds are high that I lost my patience at some point and fussed at my kids.
We want stuff and we want it now. We want results and we want them now. Yet the Bible repeatedly says that patience should be a way of life for followers of Christ.
God is love and patience is part of His character. For you and I to love like God loves, patience will be required (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). Loving as God loves is the ultimate goal as we walk through this life seeking to please God and become like Him.
Patience could be defined as the ability to endure graciously. We all have to deal at times with people or circumstances that try our composure -- an ungrateful child, an inattentive waitress, a slow moving line at the cash register, a rude boss, a spouse taking our hard work around the house for granted. How graciously do we behave in these circumstances?
The Bible says God will be faithful to complete the good works He began in us (Philippians 1:6). That implies there's going to be some "in the meantime" when we're all less than perfect and less than easy to love. This is where patience comes in. The apostle Paul instructs us to "walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph.4:1-3).
We also have to exercise patience towards God as we wait for His full plan to unfold. At times we must wait for answers to prayers, for deliverance, for provision, or for Him to dispense justice or reveal His will. We really have no choice but to wait in these circumstances, but a woman developing patience will endure the wait graciously. It helps to remember how very patient God has to be with us on a daily basis (1 Timothy 1:16, 2 Peter 3:8-9).
Exercising patience isn't just an exercise of the human will. The kind of patience Paul is talking about is a fruit of the Spirit developed in a woman's soul in tandem with God. It's a virtue that grows from her confidence in the sovereignty of God and His ability to bring all things to completion, in His timing, in a way that benefits His children and glorifies Him.
This patience thing may take some time to develop, but I've decided to graciously endure the process. I started today by stopping, like I should, and waiting at a yellow light I'm certain I could've made it through safely. As I sat at the intersection, I thought about God and about developing patience. The light turned green a mere minute later, and I went on my way with a smile on my face, happy to be a woman who is embracing patience ... even if starting in a very small way.
Dear Lord, thank You for being so very patient with me. Help me to develop patience, and display that quality for Your glory. In Jesus' Name, Amen