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Patience: Antidote to Irritations

  • Published Jun 25, 2002
Patience: Antidote to Irritations

What really bugs you? Think of all that apply:

 traffic jams  interruptions  misplaced keys
 undisciplined children  tight clothes  unreturned phone calls
 ungrateful bosses  tight budgets  indecisive people
 unanswered prayers  rude store clerks  slow or careless drivers
 stuck zippers  petty conflicts  nagging doubts

So, how many can you check? All of them?

Don't worry, you're not alone. Patience is considered one of the rarest virtues for a reason-it's hard to cultivate. So, why do you think God made "Be patient" a command-even a priority-for those who love Him (1 Thessalonians 5:14)?

Perhaps because patience is so unnatural for us to have and so much a part of who God is. It's the best indication that His Spirit is growing our faith and character to be more like Him.

In the New Testament, the word translated patience often refers to our interaction with people, while the word endurance, its sister word, relates to how we should respond to circumstances. God calls His people to both patience and endurance in everyday living. As James 5:7b-8a says, "See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm" (NIV).

Just as a farmer can't cause rain or give growth, you can't develop patience by simply "willing it so." You can, however, cultivate habits that allow God to grow His patience in you. Consider how you can cultivate patience by seeing life in a different light.

See yourself differently. Patience and humility walk side by side. Listen carefully to these words:

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4)

The next time that person or situation frustrates you, ask yourself how your attitude could reflect Jesus' humility. This is hard! Ask God for the strength and will to make others' needs just as important as your own.

See others differently. For certain, patience comes a lot easier when we're around some people and much harder when we're around others. Even so, when Paul urged Christians to "be patient with everyone" (1 Thessalonians 5:14), he was specifically referring to frustrating people. To remember that challenge, memorize this verse or post it wherever you most need to remember patience:

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:12-13 NIV)

See God differently. The key to true patience is your view of God-especially when your heart longs for an answer to prayer. When you are convinced that God is wise and loving and acting on your behalf, then you patiently rest in Him. You believe He indeed is working all things "for the good of those who love Him" (Romans 8:28 NIV). God holds the frustrations of your work, the needs of your marriage and family, and the longings of your heart close to His own. His answer may not be quick, but He has not forgotten you.

As you wait patiently for God's response to your need, make this prayer your consistent frame of mind: "Lord, I turn this over to You. I accept Your perfect timing in allowing this to happen or not happen right now. I firmly believe that Your purposes are good. I leave this person or this situation in Your hands."