My impatience shows up in many half-finished craft projects. Sometimes I excuse them by claiming boredom. If I am honest, I must admit I move from one thing to another because the current one is taking too long to finish. For me, persevering to the end is often a challenge.
Patience and its twin, perseverance, form the crown of virtue and maturity. If a person can persevere under all pressures and temptations to quit, they are mature and able to overcome great challenges. John Wesley, a famous Methodist preacher, was a patient man. Consider this page from his diary:
- Sunday morning, May 5, preached in St. Ann’s, was asked not to come back anymore.
- Sunday p.m., May 5, preached at St. John’s, deacons said, “Get out and stay out.”
- Sunday a.m., May 12, preached at St. Jude’s, can’t go back there either.
- Sunday p.m., May 12, preached at St. George’s, kicked out again.
- Sunday a.m., May 19, preached at St. somebody else’s, deacons called special meeting and said I couldn’t return.
- Sunday p.m., May 19, preached on the street, kicked off the street.
- Sunday a.m., May 26, preached in meadow, chased out of meadow because a bull was turned loose during the services.
- Sunday a.m., June 2, preached out at the edge of town, kicked off the highway.
- Sunday p.m., June 2, afternoon, preached in a pasture, 10,000 people came to hear me.
Our generation is not like that. We have instant breakfasts, fast food lunches, heat-and-serve dinners, no-iron clothes, jump-to-the-pump service. Television, with problems solved in 30-60 minutes, makes us impatient with our own problems. In our minds, all challenges should be quickly and neatly wrapped up in, at most, a day or two.
The problem with quick solutions is that we miss an important step in the development of our character. Trials make us patient.
James, the half-brother of Jesus Christ, put it this way, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Perhaps most people do not see a trial as a test of their faith. However, all challenges, particularly difficult ones, are opportunities to trust God. Easy problems do not test our resources to the limit. Tough situations bring us to the end of our abilities and, hopefully, to God.
Faith in God means trusting Him to supply whatever we need to make it through our tough situation. First, we may need wisdom. For that James said, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all. . . .”
During trials, faith also keeps us from bailing out or running away. Instead of turning to drugs, booze or other numbing “solutions,” faith keeps us from despair. By faith, we know that God hears our cry for help and His help is on the way.
Faith also knows that God uses all things, even trials, for our good, to make us more like Christ. Part of being like Christ is being patient, being able to persevere, to finish what we start.
Hmm. Now where did I leave that half-finished cross stitch?