Patient. It’s not a word that describes me best! And unfortunately, it is those who are nearest and dearest to me who know it all too well. Don’t get me wrong, I can keep my cool to a certain extent, but then I have a definite ‘snapping’ point and all too easily, I lose it. Since having my little boy I’ve learned SO much about my inability to be patient; two year olds have a marvellous way of pushing all the right buttons to reveal our true colours! Sometimes in the evening when I reflect back over the day’s happenings, I feel shame and guilt that my sin has impacted my parenting. What does the Bible have to say about patience in bearing with one another? What do I need to learn?
Firstly, God’s character gives us the blueprint to follow. Psalm 103 (one of my favourites) says “The LORD is merciful and gracious; he is slow to get angry and full of unfailing love” (v8, NLT). Mercy means to have patience and a forgiving disposition towards someone who is in your power; God is patient with us and He is always ready to forgive us when we turn to Him. Secondly, we are commanded to be patient! In amongst lots of advice for the young church in Thessalonica, Paul instructs the new believers to “be patient with one another” (1 Thess 5v14) in preparing for Christ’s return; he doesn’t give any exclusions like ‘if you feel like it’ or ‘in certain situations’ or ‘only if the other person is worth being patient for’! Simply, we must be patient with everyone. Another Bible passage that comes to mind is where the fruits of the Spirit are listed in Galatians 5 (v22-23). As Christians, we know if we are truly seeking to grow in our walk with God and are committed to learning and changing to become more like Jesus, the Holy Spirit will enable us to cultivate these Christ-like character traits in our hearts and lives. But how does this happen?
I want to share a little testimony to God’s goodness. In the last six months God has been working in my life in a way I have never known before. A very dear lady has been investing her time and energy in praying with me, encouraging me and holding me accountable for my personal prayer life, Bible study and other areas too. It has been amazing that our series on ‘One-Anothering’ has coincided with this time and I have been able to relate very personally to all the areas we’ve covered! My walk with God, my anxiety levels, how I make choices, my marriage and even how I parent have all been impacted.
I can see that as I seek to be more Christ-like and I daily commit myself to God, the Holy Spirit prompts me and I feel his ‘nudging’ in the moments when my patience is draining and anger is rising. If I am truly in step with Him, it is far easier to feel the nudge and act upon it; I ask God for immediate help in a quick prayer, I think about what I say before I say it, and I remember God’s kindness and mercy to me before I deal with my son.
I am still definitely not getting it right all the time, and I can tell when I am not in step with the Spirit and I have to repent, but I am so glad to be a work in progress (Phil 1v6) and thankful to God for his goodness in how he ‘giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater’ as the old hymn says. If He extends His grace and His mercy to us, day by day and moment by moment, how much more should we be bearing with one another with patience, kindness and gentleness in response?