Patience: the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious.
Recently someone laughingly said to me that I was impatient. At the time I was pouring boiling water from the kettle into a pan full of pasta and I was tipping it right over, so that I soaked the hob with water too! I did baulk as someone called me this rude characteristic, but it got me thinking. I know in my heart that, of course, I’m impatient. When the internet is playing up and I need to respond to an email, when the traffic is heaving and I need to get to work, when the kids need to get out the door for school and they’re in the loo, when I’m shopping and people are a lot slower than me in the aisles, I can feel my heart racing, my blood is boiling and I’m losing my patience.
Patience is a characteristic of Love in 1 Corinthians 13 and also a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). The Bible depicts Jesus as being patient - with his disciples and the crowds of people that swarmed to him. Jesus is incredibly patient with each one of us too. He sees us failing every day, but patiently waits for us to repent and ask for his help and forgiveness. If you’ve ever had to be a patient in a hospital you will know that this literally entails you being patient, patient with doctors and nurses and their time keeping, their diagnosis and their verdicts. You are in their hands and at their mercy, there’s not much you can do, except wait and wait and hopefully, eventually go home.
Patience isn’t about holding on by the skin of your teeth and managing to refrain from shouting, swearing or finding a quicker way out. Patience is about coping with the waiting and doing it well. Once again, it’s a heart issue – we wait with a calm heart, with a gracious attitude. Waiting in life isn’t just at traffic lights or queues, but can be for so many more and important things in life like marriage, children, a house, friends, job and we need to wait with the right heart and attitude. Don’t get frustrated whatever you’re waiting for right now, but ask God to help you be patient and you’ll see it reflect in your loving of Him and others.