It happened again. Actually, it happened twice.
At lunchtime I stepped outside at the sound of my dog barking—his usual “I’m hot, let me inside now” bark—only to find him across the street, tether in tow, wrapped around the neighbor’s porch column. Utterly befuddled, I set his very grateful self free, untangled his tether, and dragged it home.
A week later, another set of barks drew me away from my morning writing time. There I found my dog on the porch, growling (something he never does) and without a collar—because evidently he snapped the buckle chasing after some critter—and sporting an impressive raw scrape on his chin from whatever he decided to tussle with.
Oh, what golden opportunities for patience. I’ll admit I gave old Bay a verbal scolding—talking to him much like I would a toddler—while dabbing antiseptic on his chin. Yet over and over I felt that stirring in my spirit to be patience. To be calm. I was no use helping him if I was utterly sunk in anger, nor was this worth wrecking my day over.
Patience, I felt God calling to me. Patience with an old dog who doesn’t know better. Who sees a thing he’s gotta chase. Patience when I tell him it’s dangerous and bad to run off, but he still does it.
So. Much. Patience.
I can only imagine how endless and abiding God’s patience must be, when He has millions and millions of kids at the same time, all running amuck and scraping their chins. What lessons we have to learn from the patience of our Heavenly Father.
What is Patience?
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines patience as “the capacity, habit, or fact of being patient; bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint; manifesting forbearance under provocation or strain.”
Patience is something every Christian needs, because we will spend a lot of our lives waiting for things promised in the future—like godly justice, perfect bodies, everlasting life and the return of Christ. We also need a lot of that forbearance, which is “a refraining from the enforcement of something (such as a debt, right, or obligation) that is due,” because it’s not our place to enforce these things in many cases—it’s God’s job to dole out righteous judgement.
Patience also helps us to bear up under mistreatment, which Jesus warns that every Christian will face at one point or another. Having an attitude of patience helps us not to become overwhelmed or anxious for the things of God, but rather to be sound-minded and able to continuously serve Him while we wait.
What Does the Bible Say About Patience?
Ephesians 4:2 – Be always humble, gentle, and patient. Show your love by being tolerant with one another.
Romans 12:12 – Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles, and pray at all times.
1 Corinthians 13:4 – Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud
How Can I Become More Patient?
Because it is a fruit of our spiritual life and thus a reflection of where we’re living spiritually, growing our patience can really come from two places: active choice and state of mind. Often we have to actively choose to be patient until it becomes a habitual mindset. In order to strengthen our patience, we begin by not giving sway to our impatient thoughts and actions.
So let’s say you’re in line at the grocery store and you’re tempted to roll your eyes and start muttering under your breath when the person in line ahead of you takes way too long—practice patience right then. Instead of giving in to those urges to vocalize or stew in your impatience, do something beneficial. Don’t even give your impatience the time of day! Mentally reshuffle your priorities and do something useful while you wait in line.
The same goes for any situation where your patience is tested. If you’re in traffic and it’s getting on your last nerve, don’t sit and dwell on how annoying that is. Take time to turn up the music or call a friend (and talk about something besides the traffic) or PRAY! Or if you’re with a group of people who tend to bring out the impatience of you, pause and pray for them rather than airing all your complaints.
Let the holy spirit in you work outward to be other-focused and not all about the things that are making you impatient. When you’re walking in the spirit, you’ll discover even more ways you can turn a patience-testing situation into one that glorifies the Lord!
Throughout your week, practice conscious patience in the best and especially the worst situations.