By: Oran Viriyincy
Patience is Suffering with Grace
Of all the aspects of the fruit of the Spirit, not to mention the Christian life in general, patience is the one area where I need to show more evidence that my life is guided and directed by the Spirit. And living in Los Angeles County doesn’t help this at all!
The picture above looks all too familiar to me. I have somewhere to go and I need to be there fast. It’s only a few miles away. I jump in my car, confidently pull out of the garage thinking I’ll get there in no time.
But there’s construction, an accident, an event at the Rose Bowl, and a school zone.
I have to wait.
But it’s not just driving that tests me…
It’s texting too. See if this sounds familiar: I send an important text to someone. They don’t respond immediately. Five minutes pass and nothing. Hours pass, no reply. Two days come and go and still nada!
I think to myself (or say to my wife!): Ugh! This is so annoying! Why don’t they just reply!
But the reality of the situation is that I make people wait all the time for text replies. I’m such a hypocrite!
I could go on and on — the internet is slow, people are in my way, something doesn’t work as it was designed, etc., etc., etc.
And here’s the thing: I know I’m not alone. A recent survey found that we’re all impatient and that we make decisions about where we do business and how we treat people based on how long we have to wait!
So when we think about patience, an aspect of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5, which can be defined as suffering with grace, I think it’s fair to say that we’re in need of a bit more!
How do we get more patience?
So, we know we need to be more patient. But how do we get more patient? And can we do it right now…I mean, I don’t have time to be patient about being more patient!
Here’s the truth, almost all of us have said at one time or another that we need to be more patient. But we haven’t made long-term, sustainable changes. We’ve not become more patient.
If Dr. Phil was here he would say, “How’s that workin’ for ya?”
Really poorly Dr. Phil. Really poorly.
We need more patience but we’re proving to ourselves and one another that we can’t will ourselves to be more patient.
So, what are we to do? How can we inculcate more patience in our lives?
There’s only one way to build patience as a follower of Jesus. And it’s by being synced with the Spirit, staying in step with him as he leads us.
That’s what Paul was getting at when he named patience as an aspect of the fruit of the Spirit. He was saying that, as we live lives more in line with the Spirit, we will become more and more patient. We’ll be able to suffer the aggravations of life with more and more grace.
By staying in step with the Spirit, he will build patience in us. He’ll do what we cannot do for ourselves or one another.
Examples of Spirit-led Patience
So, what does this look like? In reality, what does it look like to have patience that comes from being deeply connected to the Spirit of God?
Truthfully, I’m not really the guy to ask! I’m so thoroughly impatient that every example I read about or think of seems idealized or forced. (I know, I know…I need to be more connected to the Spirit myself!)
But there was one person who had a connection with the Spirit that was always unbroken, always effective, and always produced the fruit of the Spirit. That person, of course, was Jesus.
And examples of patience in his life abound:
- When he found out his friend Lazarus sick, he was patient. He didn’t rush to his side. He waited, because he knew that by doing so more glory could go to his Father.
- Jesus’ interactions with his disciples are filled with patience. They ask Jesus stupid questions, they tell people unhelpful things, they do the wrong things, they don’t get what Jesus is teaching and showing them, and they fight with one another for power. Through all of that, Jesus was patient, knowing that there was a process they had to go through to become the people he needed them to be after he left.
- And one majorly-overlooked example of Jesus’ patience dominates the majority of the time he was alive. From the moment Jesus was conceived until he was 30 years old, we know almost nothing about him. How could Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, simply bide his time as a poor carpenter’s son? How could he grow into adulthood, while waiting to fulfill his purpose? How could he withstand the ridicule that likely came with him remaining single all through his 20s? One way: He was patient thanks to his deep and abiding connection to the divine life through the Spirit!
Like Jesus, we have a deep and abiding connection to the divine life through the Spirit too! Yay!
Unlike Jesus, we don’t have the wherewithal to always rely on that connection the way he did.
But we know from the example of Jesus’ life, and from the countless other lives of people who are patient thanks to being synced to the Spirit, that patience is possible for those who surrender to the Spirit.
Maybe that’s the secret sauce: Surrender. At its core, impatience is all about me wanting to get my way; while patience, at its core, is all about the Spirit having his way in us.
Let’s do more of the latter and less of the former!
What do you think? Are you like me, impatient to no end? Or have you figured this patience thing out? Let me know in the comments below!