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Patience

–  Another blast from the past that was hiding out in the draft box… –

Patience is rather illusive at times. However, it does not take long to realize that it is most definitely important to learn and cultivate.

One definition of the word “patience” is as follows: an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness; quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence

Sounds like something really good, right?

In 2 Peter 1 there is a list of things that we should be sure to work on. Faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, charity. In. That. Order. If we have those things, we will not be unfruitful, but if we lack them, we will be blind and “cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.”

Obviously, this thing… This patience… is important.

I think patience is tied closely with trust and contentment. Generally, it seems like the times I’m most patient are the times when I let go understanding that God has everything under control, trust Him with the outcome, and am content with where I am at right now. In Jeremiah 29, there is a promise that the Lord has plans for me that are not of evil, but of peace, to give me a future and a hope. So why is it hard to be patient, trust, and be content?

It seems like a lot of the places in the Bible where patience is mentioned, it is with a promise attached. Check out Hebrews 10:36, Psalm 37:7-9, Galatians 6:9, James 5:7-8 (really like this one), Isaiah 40:31, Romans 2:6-7, and Romans 8:24-25 for examples.

Patience is one of the fruit of the Spirit. Patience is to be done with joyfulness – see Colossians 1:10-12

Nobody says patience is easy… Nobody says it comes to us naturally… Nobody really says what patience IS, what it looks like, how you know if you “have” it. Maybe it’s the peace that comes after letting go of something you really want and trust God with it. Maybe it’s the process of waiting, but not just sitting around doing nothing. Maybe it’s something like being content.

Sometimes I look up synonyms to get a bigger picture of a word that I’m thinking of. So, here are some of the synonyms for patience are: calmness, composure, constancy, diligence, endurance, equanimity, even temper, forbearance, fortitude, grit, humility, long-suffering, moderation, perseverance, persistence, poise, self-control, serenity, submission, yielding…

Seems to me the times to be patient are the times when it’s hardest to be. During times of waiting, strain, provocation, danger, stress, excitement…

I don’t go for the idea that patience is a passive (I’m-just-waiting) kind of thing. It seems like it’s actually pretty active. Suppressing restlessness? Steady perseverance? Diligence? You can’t really do those things with the twiddling of thumbs and staring at the ceiling. Ok, so maybe you can be diligent to stare at the ceiling, persevere in the twiddling of thumbs as they ache from the repetition of such an activity, and suppress the restlessness that will no doubt be present in that situation…

According to Elisabeth Elliot, it seems like patience would be “keep faith and wait quietly”:

“Few of us enjoy having to wait for something we want. It is human nature to desire instant gratification, and it is divine nature to do many things very, very slowly. Growth is always imperceptible. But the farmer exercises long patience in waiting for his crop. He has done his work and is assured of the result, hence he waits quietly. He is at rest because the outcome (barring disastrous “acts of God”) is certain. If we could simply remember that this is true of everything–that God’s purposes are slowly being worked out for his glory and our good–we would, like the farmer, keep faith and wait quietly.

Lord, take from us all fretting and hurrying and teach us to rest our hearts in the “ultimate certainty” (Jas 5:7 JBP).” – Elisabeth Elliot

And since I like to be somewhat random:

“Cast not away your confidence because God defers his performances. That which does not come in your time, will be hastened in his time, which is always the more convenient season. God will work when he pleases, how he pleases, and by what means he pleases. He is not bound to keep our time, but he will perform his word, honour our faith, and reward them that diligently seek him.” ~ Matthew Henry

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