I sometimes hear people say the one thing they won’t ask God to give them is more patience. The reason they cite is not that they don’t want this biblical virtue. It’s that they dread the process of God answering their prayer.
In other words, they fear what God will do to them to stretch them into a more patient person. Sometimes I think the Lord sends us a thorn in the flesh or difficult people or many red traffic lights to teach us more patience.
As modern Americans, we live in an instantaneous society. From high-speed vehicles to high-speed Internet, we expect things fast. This means our threshold for patience can be diminished easily, if we are not careful.
I confess this: I have noticed lately that my patience level is becoming lower. From waiting in lines to interacting with my own children, I have found I become more irritable more quickly these days, and this can be partly attributed to impatience.
This is not good for a number of reasons. The Bible, and Proverbs in particular, views patience as a central virtue. Consider these verses.
- “Patience is better than power, and controlling one’s temper, than capturing a city” 16:32.
- “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense” Prov. 19:11.
- “Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly” Prov. 14:29.
In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul begins his famous exposition on love by saying, “love is patient…” (1 Cor. 13:4). Of all the ways love is shown, patience comes first and foremost. In his Epistle to the Galatians, Paul even lists patience as a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).
All this means that Christians must, by the grace of God, do more to cultivate patience. Having patience is difficult. And yes, asking God for patience is risky.
But living without it is, in the end, harder and riskier.
Lord, please give me more patience today…