I am quick to toot the horn at the left turn signal, to my husband’s chagrin, if the person in front of me doesn’t step on their gas pedal around three seconds into green. So I read again recently, The fruit of the Spirit is Patience. (Galatians 5:23)
A fruit of the Spirit? A virtue from God? How many times have any of us had to pray for patience because we have run out? Some people seem to have more than others, but I have noticed it is definitely not in me to be patient too long. Anything longer than 3—3 seconds, 3 days, 3 months… and the three of us have had it… me, myself and I.
God gets that, and so He sprinkles throughout His Word these pinpricking verses as, “The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.” (Ecclesiastes 7:8) God pricked my conscience with that one once, before I picked up the phone to call a friend—ripe to complain so they would prod their family member who was behind on a project. Did the verse work? Yes. I stopped myself and prayed for the person instead. In God’s time, the project completed without my help or ill feelings.
Patience is a bitter plan but it bears sweet fruit. There are rewards to patience. Recently, I watched a couple of young athletes impress their viewers as they championed their sport in playoffs.
Patrick Reed was 4th back at the 17th hole in January’s PGA Hyundai Tournament in Maui. “He’s just plodding along patient and steady,” the announcers mentioned as an aside to the other top three contenders at that point on the course. The time came and Reed tied for 1st with Jimmy Walker and plodded on into overtime. He won.
“I tried to stay patient” he said when asked how he felt through course and what he did to get to champion spot.
Later that night during the NCAA championships. the announcer stated the Ohio States sophomore quarterback had to take over the last 3 games of the season after the starting quarterback was injured during playoffs. He had given a remarkable performance and their team won, his talent shining through. How was his game critiqued by announcers?
“He displays patience—rare in a young quarterback. Seasoned vets learn that. You have to be patient enough to wait for the pockets of opportunity to appear as the game goes on. Wait for the receiver to appear that will give you a possiblilty that didn’t exist a second before. Patience makes the difference in a quarterback leading a team to victory.”
No matter what the goal before us the presence of patience is necessary for completion, whether in sports, work or in our personal lives. We must establish our hearts with patience (James 5:8) and continue to rejoice in hope staying patient in tribulation, (Romans 12:12). In other words keep a good positive attitude while we plod along, like the golfer, step by step, or the quarterback, play by play.
We must be patient to wait for God to move in the heart of a spouse, child or friend for goals we are hoping they succeed in. We give grace to ourselves to falter and learn from our mistakes as we learn and grow in becoming more mature and diplomatic individuals. We must be ready to respond with the deeper fruit of patience when opportunities arise to reach personal or relational goals
Patient perseverance reasons not to throw in the towel. Not to give up—drowning in doubt or apathy from ourselves, others or difficult situations. We must speak intelligently to ourselves and not let disappointment turn into discouragement. Instead, let disappoint keep us in the game, change our strategy and polish our performance. What tools can we use? What truth will prevail if we persevere and overcome being battered by impatience?Emotional and mental sobriety are gifts that are given by the Spirit of God as we trust in His ability to work in and through us, others and changing winds.
We want to know the outcomes of life. Of relationships. Of challenges. What will happen?We must be patient and trust God, and as James 1 says, “count it all joy when you encounter various trials….and let patience have its perfect work.
Patience is the frame around the picture. It is the finishing touch to times in life when no one, even ourselves, knows the whole picture and how it will turn out. We are not expected to know the outcomes in life. But we are expected to be patient and use the tools God has given us to move forward day by day responsibly and with trust.
The God who gives patience knows when its time to frame the picture.