Don’t you think we can all use a big dose of patience? After the challenges of living in what seems to be our new norm, attributes like patience, adaptability, and perseverance are key to not losing hope. It is funny how God always gives us what we need, not necessarily what we want. I guess I needed to grow in this area because this past year and a half has groomed me up to a whole new level of patience. With so much uncertainty around my husband’s fragile health during a global pandemic, along with not working and discerning my next work role and, did I mention, the inability to be with my children, grands, family, and friends? It is only by God’s grace that I haven’t gone a bit batty! But God uses everything for good. Sitting in the solitude and spending time with my Creator has gifted me with a greater understanding of His mercy and grace and has given me deeper compassion for others and especially myself.
Today, we explore the fourth fruit of the Spirit, patience. Patience allows us to have compassion for people despite their flaws and weaknesses. This fruit comes from an understanding of our own imperfect state and how God has given us His unconditional love and mercy so we should do the same for others.
Patience is the virtue of suffering interruption or delay with composure and without complaint; to suffer annoyance, insult, or mistreatment with self-restraint, refusing to be provoked and to suffer burdens and difficult tasks with resolve and determination. It is also the willingness to slow down for another’s benefit, to set aside one’s personal plans and concerns, to go at another’s pace, and to take whatever time is necessary to address their needs.
Exercising the virtue of patience is hard. So often we’re selfish and being gracious seems like far too much of an effort. In these moments we need to remember that we’re not left to do this in our own strength, because we would fail. We have the Holy Spirit living in us and helping us day-by-day to become more like our Savior, and that is a glorious and liberating truth. Patience is waiting with grace, and it is what enables us to live in this demanding world and still have love, joy, and peace, and all the other fruits of the Spirit. But patience is much easier said than done. Waiting with patience is difficult, and God knows this. The good news is that you don’t have to wait alone. God values patience in his people, and like the other fruits of the spirit that we’ve looked at so far, we can see that God Himself displays this attribute as part of His character.
Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.Focus on His truth Proverbs 14:29
As we mature in our faith, we align our will with God’s and all the characteristics of our spiritual fruits grow. Let’s look at some of the benefits of learning, understanding, and living in the fruit of patience:
- The word patience is mentioned in Scripture nearly 70 times. Old Testament stories show a God who is patient with his people, when time and time again they wander from Him. He loves them, He forgives them, and He “bears” with them. In the same way, the New Testament reflects the same message – “Bear with one another and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.” (Colossians 3:13)
- In addition to showing patience to other people around us, we are to be patient in the situations we find ourselves in. For most people, patience can be difficult in certain circumstances. Whether it’s waiting for a next job, a spouse or in a doctor’s office past your appointment time, sitting in traffic or trying to get the kids to do their chores, patience is sometimes hard to come by. All of us have been told at some point in our lives to just be patient. In our age of instant gratification, though, nobody enjoys patiently waiting.
- During recent times, our days can be long, hard, and incredibly stressful. When we’re exhausted or worried, finding patience is probably the last thing on our minds, but it should really be the first.
- In the Bible, patience is often also described as ‘waiting on the Lord’. We are told in Psalm 37:7, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.” As Christians, we can live life in the full security of the knowledge that God has a plan that is for our good and His glory. We don’t need to worry when things don’t seem to go the way we had planned because we know that we can trust our Father in heaven. Placing ourselves into the hands of God’s sovereignty and waiting for him to bring about his purposes is what patience really is.
How do we cultivate the fruit of patience? Here are a few ideas to get you started.
- Ask God for the patience that you need to get you through all of your struggles, pain, and trials and that be become like Jesus more and more as He fills you with His love.
- When others frustrate you, and you feel the urge to snap, take a moment to remember the immense patience in which God deals with us in our lives. If you want a reminder of His patient character, have a read through the book of Exodus. You’re sure to be bowled over as you see the similarities between the Israelites and our own hearts, and the frequent ways that God lovingly “bears with them” despite their constant failures.
- Meditate on heaven! In a world that tells us that all we need to be happy is the latest edition, the most glamorous relationship, and shiniest career, let’s engage with this world that we find ourselves in, but do so while patiently pursuing the true fulfilment of all our longings –the day when we see our Savior face-to-face.
- Jesus, I Trust in You. In real life, trusting God is about more than just giving the schedule of our life over to Him. It is about asking for our heart’s desire with the caveat, if it is Your will. It is about trusting God with the methods as well as the timings of the events of our life and being confident that He has our best interests at heart.
Today, we commemorate Mary’s assumption, body, and soul, into the glory of heaven in the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. According to Church tradition, and declared a dogma of the Catholic Church in 1950, Mary was drawn up into heaven by God. Because of Mary’s participation in the Incarnation of Christ, she was honored as a unique member of the Church. You can read more in Section 966 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. To me, Mary is a role model for the fruits of the spirit and “waiting on the Lord”. As I put myself in her shoes, looking at the life of Jesus through her eyes, I see a woman of patience and courage. Love is what gave Mary the courage, and the patience, to accept the seven sorrows foretold by Simeon in the Temple.
In a way, “waiting on the Lord” is both the easiest and hardest thing to do. Easiest, because it requires us to do nothing but give ourselves and our lives into the loving hands God, and hardest because we get impatient waiting and love to try to fix things on our own. This means it’s an active waiting, one where we need to constantly come back to God from our distractions and refocus on Him and His promises. This gives us greater understanding. And ultimately, what is it that we are we being patient for? Heaven! Let’s look forward to our eternal future with gladness in our hearts and wait well for the day when we will be truly satisfied. Until then, let’s shower patience, mercy, and compassion over the earth.
Smitten with the fruit of patience,