“Pray for Patience? Are you out of your mind? Everyone knows that patience is the one thing you NEVER pray for willingly”. That is what I thought for most of my life. See, patience can only be developed under trial, and goodness, do those trials ever hurt!
I learned that lesson the hard way when I was in junior high. It was ten years before I prayed for patience again. And when I did, I found myself surrounded by trials and difficult people. So I convinced myself that I had been right about patience in junior high, and it would be another fifteen years before I would pray for patience again.
But then one day I heard the Lord asking me to seek patience, because if you are not patient, you will never be peaceful.
Ouch! I did not want to grow in patience. I had already decided that growing in patience was to be avoided at all costs! Didn’t God remember that?
But inside I wanted peace more.
So I braced myself for what was to come. I knew it would be painful, and I knew it would not be quick. But surprisingly, for the first time in my life, I found myself truly and honestly praying for patience, earnestly seeking patience, almost desperate to have patience at work in my life.
Almost right away, I realized that I had been completely wrong about patience. It was yet one more thing that Satan had lied to me about. The truth is patience is POWERFUL. I mean, really powerful. It has the power to dispel darkness in your life.
See, I am easily irritated. A great example of this awaits me every week at the grocery store. I never understand why on earth a cashier would want to scan food slowly. When I do what I would classify as boring and repetitive work, I have to make up games to make the work interesting. If it were me, I would want to race, and see if I could get more orders scanned than the other cashier’s. Or maybe see if I could beat my total dollar record? Try to see how long I can go without having to look up a produce number. Try and get every customer to smile at me. Yeah, that’s what I would do to keep it interesting and meaningful.
Apparently, I never find myself in the lane of cashier’s who think like that, (except at Trader Joe’s, I have an awesome cashier there, and I always choose her lane, even if her lane is the longest). So instead, I find myself with great opportunities to practice patience.
Three weeks ago, I walked into a lane at the grocery store. There was no one else in line. I unloaded my entire cart, and still the cashier had not scanned even one of my items. I asked him if he was okay, he said yes, and still he did not start scanning. Finally after what seemed like an eternity, he sloooooowwwwwwlllllllllllyyyyy scanned each of my items, one at a time. Before I prayed for patience, I would have been overwhelmingly annoyed with him. To be honest, it never even occurred to me to be annoyed with him until just now, when I was writing about it. Instead, I looked at him. I could see him. I knew that there was something weighing on his heart. So I spoke kind, encouraging words to him instead. Thanked him multiple times for his service. I walked away in peace.
Patience allowed me to see him. Patience allowed me to be kind. Patience let me remain in perfect peace. If that isn’t power, I don’t know what is.
For so many years I wrote off patience because it would bring about more “unpleasant” situations. Equating patience with dying to self (i.e., pain), with trials (which we want to avoid), with letting others get away with things, and with not getting my way.
But when you write off patience, then you miss the blessing that patience gives – patience transforms unpleasant situations into something of beauty. Choosing to be patient calms me inside, it gives me PEACE.
Patience is a blessing.
Patience transforms unpleasant situations into something of beauty.
Choosing patience brings you peace inside.
For the first time I find myself filled with gratitude for opportunities to practice patience. I am learning to see patience as a gentle mantle that covers me. In the trials, in the pain, in relationships, when things don’t go my way, when I am patient, I remain in perfect peace.
I know patience won’t come overnight. I know it will take a painfully long time to develop. But little by little I will get there. I hope that one day I will look around and realize that I didn’t just pass the test, but that I aced it. In the meantime, I will keep praying for patience.
Seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:14b
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:17-18