There is a popular tale of a man standing in a slow-moving queue who prayed to God out of frustration: “Dear God, please give me patience, and give it to me NOW!” While the man may not have exactly asked for it in such a manner, the situation was one that would certainly teach him patience. Webster’s describes patience as waiting without being frustrated or annoyed, but to the children of God, it means to not only wait on the Lord, but also to rest in him (Isaiah 30:15). Rest in this case is a very active practice. Trusting God to bring about what must, in his own time, is the foundation of patience for God’s children.
Being one of nine fruits of the spirit, it is a direct result of having the Holy Spirit in you. The fruit is manifested in other areas of your life too. There is an often-quoted verse that says Love is patient, love is kind (1 Cor 13:4) … which can also be understood in reverse; if one is not patient with those we love, do we really love them? When we lack patience for those dependent on us for physical, material, emotional or psychological support, or those who we can’t seem to gel with, have we failed to show them God’s love? Our Father in Heaven has been infinitely patient in waiting for us to turn from our wickedness and to return to the love he so freely offers. His love is eternally patient and we would have perished by eternal damnation if it were not so and He has commanded that we do as he has done for us (Matt 22: 37-39). Patience then is also an expression and execution of one of the greatest commandments of God.The story of Jericho (Joshua 6) is often cited as an example for how God is always with us, just as he promised to be with Joshua after Moses departed. While this is an important lesson to be learned, it is worth noting what Joshua and the Israelites were required to do before God gave them the city. For seven days, the entire population of Israelites had to march around the walls of Jericho once a day in silence, and seven times on the seventh day. Marching around in silence for days in hopes of bringing down an impenetrable city was indeed an exercise in faith for Joshua. However, even during their last round around Jericho, when nothing had so far happened to indicate that anything extraordinary would take place, the Israelites marched in patient obedience. Patience was their faith manifest. Patience then is not just a virtue to be admired, but a gift that helps one reach toward being the new creatures we are in Christ, and one step closer to the perfection He is bringing us toward every day.