Thanks to a COVID exposure, I recently had to quarantine. I thrive at my workplace, but instead of doing my job, I had to stay home until I could be tested to go back to work. I got impatient and cranky quickly, which surprised me. I thought I had learned to wait on the Lord without getting salty. Evidently, I was wrong. I’m now glad it happened because it exposed some impatience that needs to come out. After all, patience is a virtue I can’t afford to be without.
I believe patience is directly linked to our trust in God. And while the Bible doesn’t teach directly about patience, per se, it does talk a lot about waiting on the Lord. Plus, it has some cautionary tales about what happens when we get impatient.
Eve didn’t wait to check the serpent’s story before eating that rotten fruit and look where that got us! Abraham, the Father of our faith, lost patience waiting for God to fulfill His promise and sired a son by his wife’s servant. That son, Ishmael, became one of the Patriarchs of Islam. The son of promise, Isaac, was born several years later and was a Patriarch of Israel. And the chaos that brought has been going on ever since.
One guy, Esau, sold his birthright for a bowl of stew. His inheritance included the promises of God, but he gave it all up because he was hungry and impatient. The first King of Israel, Saul, was too impatient to wait on God, which caused him to lose God’s favor and his Kingdom. And the list goes on and on. These stories show us patience is a necessary virtue because some notoriously unvirtuous decisions have been made without it.
Nonetheless, people are afraid to pray for patience for fear that God will send a trial that forces them to learn to wait. That’s a misguided fear—the world dishes out calamity and chaos, not God. We don’t get a pass on that stuff. But when we pray for patience, God will use the world’s chaos to help us learn to trust Him more. When we trust Him, we have peace, and the inescapable side-effect of peace is patience.
Jesus (God in the flesh) was the most patient person who ever walked the earth. Now that Jesus has given us His spirit, we have patience, inside us, waiting to blossom. God’s idea is to pull the Jesus that’s inside us to the outside of us so we can love people better. There is nothing less Christ-like than an impatient, cranky Christian. Sadly, when squeezed, that’s what we often show the world. If you don’t believe me, just think of the last time you were behind a lousy driver or slow checker at Walmart. I rest my case.
Here’s what the Bible says about waiting on the Lord in the Book of Isaiah, “those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.”
What an incredible promise from God! And that promise lives on the other side of our salty impatience. Now, grit your teeth and pray with me, “Father, please teach me the virtue of patience.”