Little children sometimes stamp their feet, pout, and demand, “Give it to me... right now!”
Bigger children are not much different. We moan, “Give me patience, and I need it... right now!”
All sorts of things test our patience: unexpected changes and no changes, delays and head starts, intricate projects and boring projects, traffic snarls and long drives without any traffic, people who move too slow and people who move too fast. We become impatient with little people and big people, with ourselves, and sometimes with God.
Impatience is often related to weakness in some other area of life. The person who frets at the slowness of traffic may be guilty of poor time management. The mom who rages when her children keep interrupting may not have learned to give them proper attention so they don’t feel threatened by her occupation with other things. The intricate, involved project may be left undone, not because of impatience, but just plain laziness.
A dear woman of God related with a knowing chuckle, “Never pray for patience... the Bible says that God gives patience through tribulation, so if you ask for it, you will get nothing but problems...” She was right.
James 1 says, “the testing of your faith (through trials) produces patience,” so in spite of our thinking that trials make us impatient, we need to see them as having an entirely different purpose.
Through the trials of life, we learn to make choices. Behind any choice is some basic theology about ourselves and about God. If I believe that what I want is more important than whatever it is that is preventing me from having it, I will react with impatience. That choice is self-centered because my thinking focused on my own desires and purposes.
If I believe that God uses all things for good in my life, that He personally cares, that He is involved in what happens to me, that He has purpose in the delays and the difficulties, then I will choose patience. It is easier to endure a trial, waiting to see what its outcome will be if I concentrate on who controls it, and that He has a purpose for it.
Sometimes God’s purpose becomes key to a patient response. If we can learn the will of God for our lives, and co-operating with that will, patience is the result.
Patience it takes time, and trials, but as the saying goes, it is a definite virtue, far easier on ourselves, and everyone else, than fighting life, pouting, stamping our feet, and saying “I want it now!”