Traits of a Godly Person: Patience

Have you ever said a prayer, in a whispered rush, because you didn’t know what else to do; you had reached the end of your string and thought you would lose your mind or at least your cool?

“Lord! Please give me patience!”

What were you thinking?

I used to pray that prayer too, but then I realized something. Every single time I prayed for patience, things got oppressively worse. Why was that? I finally stopped praying for patience because I realized life, by its very chaotic nature, requires a camel’s hump worth of patience.

Image by  Wolfgang Inderwies  from  Pixabay

Since we looked at diligence last week, it seemed fitting to peer at patience as the two of them go hand in hand. Practice is an extension of diligence. If we want to learn a musical instrument or a language, we must diligently practice. In the same way, patience is required when we are trying to be diligent. We must be patient with ourselves. To think I will be able to play Beethoven after only a few hours of practice would be an error. Indeed, it might take a month, a year or a lifetime, to really master something, and that takes patience.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
— Galatians 5:22 (NASB)

The Bible tells us that patience is a fruit of the Spirit. In order to fully grasp this idea we must look at what patience is not.

Patience is not getting my own way.

We might like to think that if everyone would just fall into line, my line, that all would be well and I would never have an impatient moment. How likely is that?

Image by  Dhamma Medicine  from  Pixabay

Image by Dhamma Medicine from Pixabay

As moms we know how hard it is to get the miniature people in our lives to fall into line, let alone the full sized ones. We are born with a desire to be individuals, and God is okay with that. He made us all uniquely different. God also created us with a desire to know Him. It is only in following Him, and getting into His line, that we will truly understand what patience is, and become partakers of it.

Patience is not being perfect.

How many of you have had thoughts like this, “If I was just more…..”? You can fill in the blank with words like pretty, skinny, smart, rich, sexy, outgoing, bold, and so on. Wouldn’t it be easy to be patient with ourselves and others if we were all perfect? Honestly, I think that would get a tad bit boring. Perhaps that is why God made us so differently; different colors, different languages, different approaches to life, different likes and dislikes. Perfect? No. Different? Yes.

Image by  Gerd Altmann  from  Pixabay

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Patience is not practiced.

This might seem counterintuitive, but think it through for a minute. You can practice the piano. A child can practice riding a bike or tying his shoes. A teenager can practice driving a car. The only way to really practice patience is by placing yourself in a situation that would require it and who it their right mind would want to do that?

Image by  Free-Photos  from  Pixabay

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

“Hey, I think I’ll go to my doctor’s appointment an extra two hours early, just so I can practice waiting.”

“I think I’ll get on the highway at rush hour, so I can practice not getting angry.”

“I need an extra dose of patience, so I’m going to have the dentist put crowns on all my teeth!”

I mean really. Who thinks that way?

What do we do about patience? We all know we need more of it, especially in our chaotic world. Politics, racial issues, religion, family life; everywhere we turn we need patience. How do we obtain more of it?

Since patience is a fruit of the Spirt it makes sense that in order to have it, we need to be in close contact with the One producing the fruit. As I have said other times in this Godly traits series, being in close contact with the Almighty is the only way to truly obtain all of these traits. These are Godly traits, or characteristics that He has. In order for us to have them, we need to be walking in fellowship with Him. Prayer, Bible study, fellowship with other believers, are all part of the formula for becoming a more Godly person.

In addition to that, here are a few real world things you can do, to help raise your patience level. I have found these most helpful when faced with those situations that make you want to scream, stomp and pull your hair out, or at least use a few very naughty words.

Take a deep breath.

Image by  Free-Photos  from  Pixabay

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Swimmers know that it is important to breathe. In addition to knowing the precise strokes, having strength, and practicing, knowing when and how to breathe is also important. When you are swimming through life and the waters get turbulent, remember how to breathe. Sometimes when I start to feel anxious I will take a deep breath in and then slowly blow it out. A simply practice could be the next time you are stuck in traffic, take a deep breath in and think about Jesus, a verse or a prayer. When you exhale, imagine you are blowing away the bad feelings, including those naughty words you were thinking in your head. Ha, ha.

Distract yourself.

Pixabay - smart phone/waiting

Having appointments, where you have to sit and wait are pretty common, especially as we age and have to spend more time at doctor’s offices. It is so much easier these days with our smart phones to play a game, get on Facebook or even listen to music, while we are waiting. It makes time go so much faster. The plus to this is, you can even listen to or read the Bible. There is really no reason to be impatient while you are waiting in our tech savvy society. However, do not use your phone to distract you while in a traffic jam! The results could be disastrous.

Think about others.

This attitude has often helped me in the retail business. When a customer gets cranky, I always try to remember they might be going through something difficult. They might be having their patience tried in ways that we can’t even begin to imagine.

Image by  WikimediaImages  from  Pixabay

Image by WikimediaImages from Pixabay

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Walk a mile in his moccasins.” I didn’t know until I looked it up that this actually originated with a poem written by Mary T. Lathrap (1838-1895), who was an American poet, Methodist Episcopal preacher, prohibitionist and suffragist. You can see more on her and the poem in full on the blog, James Wilson - Writing & Things. Here are the first three stanzas from the poem.

“Pray, don’t find fault with the man that limps,
Or stumbles along the road.
Unless you have worn the moccasins he wears,
Or stumbled beneath the same load.

There may be tears in his soles that hurt
Though hidden away from view.
The burden he bears placed on your back
May cause you to stumble and fall, too.

Don’t sneer at the man who is down today
Unless you have felt the same blow
That caused his fall or felt the shame
That only the fallen know.
— Mary T. Lathrap from Judge Softly

Trust Him.

If you read my faith post regularly, you will see a pattern. I always want to direct you back to our Creator. We know what it is like to be impatient, but there are times when life becomes so overwhelming we no longer feel the ability to wait for the Rescuer to come. These are the times I must choose to trust.

Image by  Gerd Altmann  from  Pixabay

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The Bible, God’s inspired word says,

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
— Philippians 1:6 (NASB)

This is a promise and when life gets to much to bear we must claim it. Paul said he was confident about this. He knew that God was working to perfect us in Christ Jesus. All the waiting, the hair pulling and the struggles are for one purpose, to make us like Jesus. If we do not believe that, then it all seems for naught.

I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.
— Job 42:2 (NASB)
Are there any among the idols of the nations who give rain? Or can the heavens grant showers? Is it not You, O Lord our God? Therefore we hope in You, For You are the one who has done all these things.
— Jeremiah 14:22 (NASB)

If God can do all things and has done all things, won’t He most certainly give us the patience we need when life becomes a waiting game?




Waiting.

She walked with purpose through the camp. Her waiting had turned to worry and her worry had turned to anger. Why weren't they moving? Why were they just sitting here? The enemy's walls were within sight, which meant her daughter, who had been in his filthy grasp for more than two months, was within the reach of her arms. Her arms longed to hold her once again, to look into her sweet face and see those blue eyes smile back at her. 

Pixabay

Pixabay

She saw the King's tent ahead. Two guards stood outside the entry and just as she made to move past them, they blocked her way with their long spears. She backed up angrily.

"What is the meaning of this? I am here to see the King."

The two guards didn't even flinch. Staring straight ahead the one said, "The King is not to be disturbed, by anyone."

Pixabay

Pixabay

She stepped up to the one who spoke and looked up at his face. He was at least a foot taller than her, but she was not going to be intimidated. 

"I am the King's daughter. He will most certainly see me."

The guard did not move, his expression stony. "He will not be disturbed by anyone, not even you, your Highness!"

She fumed, but she also remembered her place. She was the King's daughter, but He was the King. Ranting and raging would only make her look a fool and would not serve to get answers to her questions any sooner. 

She took a deep breath. "Would you please tell my father, as soon as is convenient, that I need to see him?"

The guard did not speak, merely gave a curt nod.

She moved away, ranting and raging on the inside. 

*           *            *            *             *

The small brook she sat beside had a calming effect on her tumultuous nerves. As the sun began to slide behind the horizon she heard a voice behind her.

Pixabay - stream

"So I have found you."

Her father joined her on the fallen log that she was using as a bench. 

She stared at the stream, willing herself to be calm.

"I was told you wanted to see me."

She made no response.

"Here I am!" His voice was almost jovial.

She sprang to her feet, whirling on him as if he was the enemy himself.

"How can you be so calm? The enemy is within sight and yet here we sit! My daughter is within reach and yet we have been camped here for days. You have been distant from me, even telling your guards to not let me, your own daughter, in to see you. I am mad with the waiting!"

He patted the log beside him. "Come. Sit beside me."

She started to pace. It was her default, to keep moving. Moving meant she was doing something and doing something was far better than doing nothing at all. She said as much.

"I do not want to sit. I want to go get my daughter. I want to go in and kill the man who has no doubt violated her by now. We don't even know if she is still alive."

Once again, he patted the log next to him, his voice a bit more forceful.

"Sit!"

She took a deep, steadying breath, then sat back down. 

"You have been trained to be a warrior. You know as much about tactics and battle as I do, maybe even more. You also are aware, that this enemy is not one to be trifled with. He has his own tactics, many of which have taken husbands from their wives and fathers from their children. I will not go into this battle on anyone's timeline, but my own."

Now it was his turn to stand up and pace. 

"You don't think I've lost sleep over the fact that my grand daughter is in the hands of that beast? Do you think I am unaware of the ramifications of delay? That little girl is never going to be the same, but to rescue her alive is my only goal. Our enemy will have no qualms about taking her life. My goal is to keep that from happening...but it must be done with great care."

He went and knelt before her. This time he took her hands in his own.

"You must trust me. You must believe in my ability as you father and as your King."

She felt her anger recede to a dark corner of her mind. As tears filled her eyes, she said, "Help my unbelief!" 

She leaned into his strength and sobbed.

for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.’
— Deuteronomy 20:4 (NASB)

This was a fiction piece by Amy D. Christensen. You can see the first two parts to this series by clicking on the titles below.

Part 1: Return to Battle

Part 2: A Father's Perspective