The many benefits of patience
Tired, stressed, in a hurry? Let God teach you how to be patient.
In today's post, we’re going to consider the Christian virtue of patience. What is patience and how should we incorporate it into our lives?
What does the Bible say about patience?
We live in a world where things are changing rapidly. Just consider how far technology has come in the past 50 to 100 years, or even the past year. It seems that even before we can get the latest and greatest gadget, we’re already bombarded with advertisements for something that’s even better.
The rapid pace of life often brings with it the tendency for instant gratification. For many of us, when we want something, we want it now. I’m not pointing fingers, unless you count the three pointing right back at me!
Interestingly enough, the Bible has quite a bit to say.
Waiting, waiting, waiting...
One of the best examples of patience in the Bible is Abraham. When Abraham was around 75 years old, God promised him that he would have a child. But Abraham didn’t see that promise fulfilled until he was 100 years old (Gen 21:5).
The Bible says that Abraham, “having patiently waited, obtained the promise” (Heb 6:15, NIV). Abraham stayed steadfast in his faith. The Apostle Paul describes Abraham’s faith in the following way:
Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised (Rom 4:20-21, NIV).
Just like Abraham, in the midst of our trials, desires, and wants, we need to remember to look to God, who always fulfills His promises. We need to be like Abraham recognizing that God has the power to do what He says He will do.
Patience and perseverance
Connected to the biblical idea of patience is the theme of perseverance. Believers are called to endure through hardship and pain (Rom. 8:18-25; 12:12; Col 1:11; 2 Tim 2:24). If you’ll recall from our study on joy, James tells us that we are to consider it “pure joy” when we go through various trials (Js 1:2). But James also talks about perseverance in the midst of these trials. When we persevere through trials, we become mature Christians. Romans 5:3-4 says the same thing.
Benefits of being patient
I don’t know about you, but sometimes it’s really difficult to be patient. When I attended Bible College, I lived in the city of Chicago in the USA. There was a certain time of day that I dreaded driving—rush hour. There was nothing rushed about it! Traffic was at a dead standstill. A drive that would normally take 20 minutes ended up taking closer to an hour or more.
But through driving in standstill traffic I learned the importance of using my time wisely instead of complaining.
- I used the opportunity to spend time with God. It was during those times that I had some of the best times praying in my life.
- I began actually listening to and thinking through the music I heard on the radio. The commute gave me a good opportunity to think about how the music affected my thoughts and attitudes and whether it was building me up in my faith.
- I found the opportunity to let my mind reflect on the day. What was good and bad about my day? How did I treat my friends? Was I living the way Jesus wanted me to?
In many ways, I’m thankful for the long commute. It helped to instill principles in me that I have learned to incorporate into my life still today. Patience can do that for you, too.
How you can grow patience in your life
Now, you don’t have to be stuck in Chicago traffic to learn the benefits of patience in your life. Let’s look at some steps below to begin incorporating the virtue of patience in our lives. Here's a few steps you can take, wherever you may be:
- Read through and reflect on the following passages: James 1:2-4; Romans 8:18-25; 12:12. Ask yourself: What do these passages have to say about patience? How is patience connected to suffering and hope?
- Think about areas where you’re struggling with patience in your life and jot those down. Then, think about how lack of patience in those areas might be keeping you from loving God and loving others. If you find that impatience is keeping you in a constant bad mood or from loving God and others, confess it to the Lord.
- Begin looking for ways that you can use your time wisely instead of complaining about having to wait. Look for ways to fill your life up with a positive outlook regarding your circumstances.
- Consider unplugging for a while from electronics and spend some time in solitude.
Again, there’s nothing magical about these steps. Our goal is to find ways that we can move closer to Jesus through the fruit of the Spirit.