The world gives us a lot of opportunities to practice patience and become more like God every day.
I’m an instant gratification girl. I love convenience and quickness. I like results.
I want my Amazon order by the next day. I want to see my wrinkle cream work overnight. I want to hear about a job opportunity as quickly as possible, so I can begin to prepare.
I get frustrated when things take time because it feels a lot like time wasted.
There are a million things I could trace this impetuous behavior back to, but the bottom line is that I am impatient.
I get annoyed when dinner takes a seemingly long time to arrive after I have ordered. Or when it takes a long time to get test results back. Or when a car in front of me is moving at a glacial pace.
“Come on, buddy! We all have somewhere to be!”
I also struggle to have patience for myself. It’s easy to get frustrated when I try something new that doesn’t work right away. Or when I have been working on something like eating healthy and exercising but the scale doesn’t reflect my efforts. Or when I set a goal that doesn’t come to fruition.
Can we all agree that it’s hard to be patient?
Honestly, I never thought about patience as a big deal. We are all impatient, right? And I’m not impatient about everything, just the really annoying things.
“Or do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, forbearance, and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” Romans 2:4 (NIV)
We know that God is love. And we know a fruit of the Spirit is patience and that we are made in His image. So if one of the attributes of God is that He is patient and I am made in His image, should I not be patient, then? Or, at least, more patient than I am now?
Psalm 145:8 tells us that “The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.”
It’s not that He doesn’t get angry. But, He is slow to anger. That’s patience.
His judgment will come, but He waits to give it. Not to see what happens or because He wants more information. He waits because His priority is self-revelation, not judgment. We become more like Him when we know more about Him. He reveals Himself, and His patience gives us every chance to get to know Him and become more like Him.
Sadly, this means that the lightning bolt of patience will never strike us. It doesn’t come instantly because we pray for it. It comes because we practice it. As we learn more about the character of God, we have opportunities to practice what we are learning. Over time, we begin to resemble more and more the image of God in this area.
It’s not that we won’t ever lose patience again or that we won’t get angry anymore. It’s simply that we will remain in a state of peace for longer and longer.
Where do you struggle with feeling patient?
Is it a co-worker who annoys you? A dog who won’t obey? A teenager who procrastinates homework endlessly? A mobile phone that loses its signal and can’t load a page you are searching for? Is it yet another thing breaking in your home?
How do you respond when you feel impatient? Do your shoulders tense up? Are you short with a loved one? Do you scream or throw things? Do you just sit down and cry?
You aren’t alone. We all struggle with this in our ways. There is grace. But we all have the opportunity to practice being patient. Think about how you can respond with grace so you can exhibit patience.
For example, whenever I find myself stuck behind a slow driver, I tell myself that God is protecting me from being in an accident up ahead. I also leave earlier than planned to build a time buffer and not be late if I am behind a slow driver or stuck in traffic. These two things together have made me a more patient driver. More patience has given me more peace. And that reflects God in my life as I become more like Him.
Do you want more patience in your life? God will give you the opportunities you need. Prepare for them by making a list of the top areas you feel impatient and come up with a grace-led response. Then, start practicing. You will mess it up. That’s okay. Just practice again. Have patience for yourself as you become more and more like God.
Anne Watson is a business strategy coach who helps coaches and communicators think like a business so they can inspire like a boss. Her clients get extreme clarity about their niche and develop that into a transformational offer that increases both their self-worth and net worth. She is also the host of the Swayology podcast. Anne currently lives in the Dallas, Texas, area with her husband, three adult children, and too many dogs.