“I am sure that God keeps no one waiting unless He sees that it is good for him to wait,” C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity. The Bible is filled with instruction on the virtue of patience. Interestingly, not much has changed since the original Scriptures were written – the areas where we require patience remain the same today.
Patient in Tribulation
The Bible tells us that we are to be patient in tribulation. What kind of tribulation has changed over thousands of years, however God’s Word is still as relevant to believers today as it was then. In the gospel of Luke (21:15-19), we understand that we are to be patient when facing persecution. In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he makes it clear that our patience is developed and nurtured through our tribulation. “…we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope:” (5:4). So important is patience in tribulation that Paul sees necessary to include it again later in his letter: We are to be “patient in tribulation;” (12:12).
It wasn’t just in Romans that Paul wrote about the importance of patience. In this letter to the church at Galatia, Paul encouraged his brothers and sisters to “not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (6:9). While his instruction in patience is related to well doing, because the letter was written specifically to address agitators who were trying to push Judaism, we understand that Paul believed strongly in practicing patience with each other.
Patient toward all
In addition to his letter to the Galatians, Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:14 that we are to “be patient toward all men.” Years later in his letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul elaborated that we are to forbear one another in love – to show grace – through patience (Ephesians 4:2). As to the ‘how’ we are supposed to be patient with each other, it is not possible without love. In what’s been dubbed as “the love chapter” (also written by Paul), we understand that charity – today we call it love – suffers long, bears, believes, hopes, and endures all things (1 Cor. 13:4, 7).
Wait on the Lord
As if being patient in our personal relationships weren’t challenge enough, we are also called to be patient as we wait on the Lord. “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.” (Psalm 37:7). Waiting for the Lord’s timing is perhaps the hardest – and yet the most rewarding – aspect of developing our patience. Practicing patience as He works His will to grow us and help us bear fruit (Luke 8:15) is a work itself. When we are feeling weary, may we consider our Lord, the most patient of all – with us both as individuals and society – not willing that any should perish, but watching us falter, grieving our sin, and waiting so patiently for us to come to Him and repent. How can we be impatient with the One who is so patient with us?