When you are tempted to lose patience with somebody, think how patient God has been with you the whole time[i].
Patience is a behavioral response toward others. It’s how we carry ourselves, our attitude during trials and difficulties. We remain patient even in the most difficult situation because we have hope. If hope is the expectation of future good, patience is a cheerful endurance in the present. If we lose hope, we become impatient. Therefore, as long as we have hope, we remain patient.
When we were kids we were taught that patience is a virtue. And rightly so. Because patience perfect a person’s character. However, it was not made clear how and why. I grew up thinking that patience is something that can be taught in order to be learned. I was wrong. It was those small things that I learned over the course of time that taught me how to be patient.
I also thought that to be patient means to endure hardships because I was meant to go through it in order to develop my character and I have no other recourse but to accept it as it is. Although part of it was true, I realize how short-sighted that kind of belief was. When you are patient, it doesn’t mean you are desperate because you have no better option.
Other than how we respond, we are not always in control of the things that come along. Accepting that fact will give us valuable insight and channel our energy into something better and more useful undertaking instead of complaining and weltering in a tirade of self-destructive behavior.
Romans 8:25 “But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” English Standard Version
The word “patience” here is derived from the Greek word “hupomone”. It means “cheerful endurance”. Imagine a track and field athlete straining every muscle forward during training in order to break records and win a gold medal. The present difficulties are temporarily forgotten, or rather cheerfully endured, because the focus is the future “win” and the success that it will bring.
Patience drives out despair and replaces it with hope; it looks at the present calamities as a means of achieving a future glory where we can focus our sight on.
One online dictionary says, “Patience is the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious”.
A farmer has some critical lessons to teach us in patience[ii]:
- The only plants that appear in the field in a short period of time, without toiling on it, are the weeds
- The farmer has no control of the weather; he can only hope for the best
- And yet he continues to work on his field, waiting patiently, because he knows that harvest season will soon come and valuable crops will soon be harvested from the field
From a Christian point of view, it denotes an excitement while waiting for the promises of God to be fulfilled. No matter how long it takes, you wait for it – and you rejoice while waiting – because if God made that promise it will surely come to pass. Joyce Meyer, a popular television and online evangelist has this to say: “Patience is not the ability to wait but how you act while waiting”.