Have you ever wished the person in front of you would hurry up? Maybe you’ve been frustrated that a webpage didn’t load fast enough? Or perhaps you longed for a response to a text you sent a minute ago? It’s an all too common experience in our fast-paced world. Ironically, the faster our world becomes, the more impatient we grow. This is because we’ve lost the art of patience.
When the Bible talks about patience, it’s not just about waiting for something good to happen. It’s also about how we deal with people. In the letter to the Ephesians, Paul writes, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Eph 4:2). The call to be humble and gentle, well it’s a package deal. We can only demonstrate humility and gentleness when we are patient. When we approach others with this attitude, we are more likely to be patient in all of our interactions. The central message is clear: we must be patient with one another. This patience should be grounded in love. It means enduring and tolerating the imperfections and shortcomings of others, just as God shows patience and love toward us, even though we continue to fall short of who he has called us to be. As Christians we reflect the image of God, therefore patience should be part of our character.
Patience is more than just a tool which prevents us from losing our cool. It helps us to find joy in our relationship with God and sustains our faith, especially in the face of life’s trials, hardships, and pain.
At some point in our lives, we will find ourselves in a season of struggle. The world demands immediate solutions, but God follows a longer game plan. As Christians, we are people who wait on the Lord, as we look to the day when Jesus will return and fulfil his redemptive work. The Bible is filled with examples of those who have learnt that God’s path is winding, marked by bumps, yet ultimately better. Joseph, Ruth, David, Job, and Jesus all faced hardships and waited patiently, knowing that God was at work and is still at work today in and through us.
We need to learn the art of patience, but how can we? Here are a few thoughts.
Firstly, embrace times of hardship as opportunities for growth. Instead of becoming disheartened, trust in God’s plan and purpose for your life. When you demonstrate perseverance by showing your reliance on God, this helps to build patience.
Secondly, read and reflect on what God’s Word says about patience. Remember that patience is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23), and allow the Holy Spirit to transform your character. When you need patience, take time to pray, ask God to calm your heart and give you wisdom and strength when your understanding is lacking.
Thirdly, foster an attitude of gratitude by reflecting on the blessings in your life and acknowledging God’s providence. You can develop a more patient and content outlook by recognising the good things you have, even in challenging circumstances.