Patience is a gift from God. We want the gift of patience, but often our problem is that we’re not really thrilled with how it’s packaged. Patience comes wrapped inside trials and hardships.
God’s gift of patience is one He expects you to unwrap and use. I believe one of the reasons is because He knows it’s such a practical gift. We’re going to need it for ourselves, for our relationships with others, for our relationship with God, and for just walking around in this world. Patience is God’s gift, but it comes with an expectation of use and practice – God gives us the gift and then graciously puts us into situations where we’ll need to use it.
Patience is especially useful when it comes to another word we’re not overly fond of in our own lives: change. Change is process; it is the act of turning something that was one way into something different. Generally, these sorts of miracles do not take place overnight, no matter what the late-night infomercials say. Change requires patience because change takes time.
Change can be an unsettling process, often involving emotional, physical, and spiritual heavy lifting. It is hard and slow, so patience is required. God expects us to change. He wants us to change. He wants us to move from where we are not to where He wants us to be. He wants us to exhibit patience in the process, just as He exhibits patience with us. Not only is patience a gift, it is also a responsibility. How responsible are you with patience in your life? God gives you patience, but He is expecting a return on His investment.
God gives you all power not so that you’ll be all-powerful and avoid problems. Instead, He wants you to experience great endurance, patience, and joy in the midst of the problems.
God expects us to be patient with ourselves, with others, and with Him. In all my years of counseling, this is perhaps one of the most difficult spiritual attributes to possess: patience with God. When Christians undergo severe hardship, trauma, and illness, there is a natural tendency to cry out to God and ask, “Why?” This is usually not a patient question at the time it is uttered. It is an anguished, heartfelt demand-request for an answer – an immediate answer. For many of these questions, the answers are not immediately forthcoming. For many, waiting and patience are involved.
But hope is involved as well. If you are waiting for an answer from God, for the “whys” in your life, you need patience and you need hope – patience to ensure today and hope to believe in tomorrow. Yours is the cry of King David is Psalm 40:1-3: “I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.”
It is important to remember that even though God lifted David out of the pit, He didn’t put him there in the first place. Some people blame God for the pits in their lives. They believe that because God is all-powerful, any pit they fall into is ultimately God’s fault because He could have prevented it if He wanted to. They have no patience with God because they blame Him for their circumstances in the first place.
God calls us to be patient event when He doesn’t answer. Psalm 37:7 says, “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him.” I have known people who have waited years, decades even, to finally receive the answer from God for what has happened in their lives. In the midst of their pain and confusion, they were called to trust God enough to be still before Him and wait for His answer. They hoped for an answer even when it didn’t come. They lived out Romans 8:24-25, which says, “But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” In hope, they waited patiently on God.