Fruit of the Spirit: Patience

Rush-hour traffic on I-35, lines at the DPS, and hold times for customer service calls generally evoke unpleasant memories for most of us. Similarly, when restlessness and frustration mounts on a sixteen-hour, trans-Atlantic flight, we fail to remember that a similar journey by sea took an entire month just a century ago. Patience can be hardly found in my seasons of waiting. I can recall a span of six months preceding graduate school when I was fret with worry waiting for a call or e-mail for interviews. Through endless spam and telemarketing calls, I found that season of life to be particularly trying. Whether in the lunch line or in the doctor’s office awaiting a biopsy report, the manner in which we wait can speak volumes about our trust in God’s sovereignty.  In this blog series, we will consider patience, a ‘Fruit of the Spirit’ from Galatians 5.

Waiting gracefully has become a lost discipline since we live in a time when the word “instant” is paired with the way we communicate, receive news updates, and even prepare our meals. For example, experts have found that the longer an online video takes to buffer, the less likely people are to stick around and watch it—even by a matter of seconds. The desire for immediate gratification has sadly taken a toll as evidenced by rising rates of anxiety disorders and major depression among young adults.

The Bible teems with examples of men and women who’s lives were characterized by utter dependence on God, often through months or years of waiting. You may recall God’s promise to Abraham about becoming the father of many nations, which was only fulfilled when Abraham was 100 years old. We refer to the “patience of Job,” now a common idiom, when expressing unrelenting perseverance amidst suffering; and we can only imagine what went through Joseph’s mind while languishing in Pharaoh’s prison; or the prophet Hosea as he faced betrayal repeatedly. Moreover, Hannah exemplifies true patience in her years of bitter supplication coupled with contentment in God’s provision irrespective of the outcome. Patience in the life of a believer means seeking God’s will without regard to the outcome knowing that His timing is perfect.

Lastly, patience is a virtue inextricably linked to love as stated in 1st Corinthians 13. Consider the perpetual cycle of sin, judgement, and repentance the Israelites fell into and God’s limitless patience towards them. The psalmist declares the goodness of God as it relates to His compassion and restrain when dealing with us (Psalm 103:8). He does not deal with us as our sins deserve but instead sent His Son who patiently endured the cross on our behalf. As Christians, we rejoice in the patience our Father extends, for it is a tangible display of His love for us. May the Holy Spirit continue to work in us to produce patience and I pray that it will be on full display in our times of trial.

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