Patience Is Suffering with Grace A Spirit-Synced Way of Life

patience

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.

Ugh.

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!

Beginnings Aren’t Sexy

There is a tribe of human beings who love beginnings.  Are you one of them?

  • Did you play with toys as a child for a day or two and then move on?
  • Did you have a slew of short or shallow dating relationships?
  • Do you find yourself dreaming of what could be even while what is right in front of your face is doing well?
  • Are you kind of good at lots of stuff because you like the rush of getting to know something but the knowing it well part sounds tedious?
  • Would you rather be on a new adventure than sticking with what you know is fun and fulfilling?

If you said yes to any of those things then you might be like me: a person obsessed with beginnings.

There are other ways to describe us — visionaries, entrepreneurs, self-starters, etc.  But those descriptions are too positive, too sexy, and too deceptive.  What people like me really are is this: we’re scared of slow success, we’re impatient, and we can be a terror to lead.

When I was a freshman in college I asked my parents for a guitar for Christmas.  My dad wisely resisted, saying something like this: “Why?  You’ll just put it down and not touch it for two years after you mess around it with it for a week.”

Does this sort of response sound familiar to you?  Well, it did to me then (and still does today!).  But I promised my dad that I wouldn’t quit, that I would stick with it no matter what.  This was going to be different than the skateboard, the remote-controlled car, the yo-yo, etc., etc.

And it was.  For what seemed like the first time in my life I put in effort.  I got past my obsession with beginnings and put in the hard and arduous work of learning to play the guitar as a not-so-musically-talented person.

I spent months learning how to play the G, C, and D chords so that I could play 95% of the worship songs out there.

I took three college classes on guitar and music theory for guitar.

I upgraded my guitar, selling my first one in the process, after months of saving up enough cash.

I practiced religiously for years, eventually upgrading again and helping lead worship for hundreds of people.

I finally got to experience the joy of something besides beginnings…and it was great!

 

Beginnings Aren’t Sexy

Here’s my contention — for some of us we need to be told again and again that beginnings aren’t sexy.  They aren’t all that they seem.  Sure, they’re fun and challenging and full of affirmation.  But their joy is short-lived.  Friends, the things in life that are worth living for can’t be fully enjoyed at just their beginnings.

What sorts of things?

  • Friendship: When you first meet someone that you think you’ll develop a friendship with it can be exhilarating.  But the joy that comes with sharing your innermost thoughts and fears with someone that you can intrinsically trust due to years of proof is too amazing for words.  Sure, there are bumps in the road.  There is difficulty.  There are tears.  But their are smiles, little victories, parties, empathy, vulnerability, and depth too.
  • Marriage: The wedding and the honeymoon are great.  But take it from an old pro (12+ years in the bank as I write this), the long car ride, the impromptu lunch, and the partnership through treacherous life stuff is better.  Way. Better.  If married people stopped at beginnings then there would be fewer epic love stories, fewer weathered rocking chairs on porches, and fewer places of uninhibited personhood.
  • Leadership: Starting out is great.  There’s stuff to learn, people to assess, vision to cast, and execution to look forward to.  But it won’t take long for those things to pass and the real work of serving the people you lead to begin.  That’s where the rubber hits the road.  That’s where people will actually buy into your vision instead of just saying that they will.  If leaders only stay around for beginnings, then they’re not really leading anything — they’re starting things.  Leadership requires patience, presence, and persistence — three things that only begin to make their presence known during beginnings.
  • Following Jesus: I want to end with the most important one.  When we first hear about and internalize the good news of Jesus and his kingdom and agree to follow him, it’s amazing!  We experience the reality of God’s love and the familial support of his people.  Often we are “on fire” and we start telling everyone we care about (and someone people we barely know!) how much God loves us.  But following Jesus isn’t just for the beginnings.  No.  Just like the things above, it is often over the span of many years that how God is calling us comes into clarity.  God takes his time to show us how we fit into his ministry of reconciliation and if we stop at beginnings we’ll miss out on all that he has for us.

So beginnings can be tantalizingly appealing.  But they really aren’t as sexy as they seem.  The real stuff comes with age, with time, and with experience.  The real stuff can’t be discovered overnight.  The real stuff must be teased out and spelled out over years and years if not decades and decades.

So here’s the challenge: Barring something exceptional (like abuse or a clear word for God), stick to the things you feel God has called you to.  Don’t jump around.  Invest in your human relationships.  Lead well for a long time in one place.  And follow Jesus for your whole life.

 

What do you think?  What’s is so enticing about beginnings?  And am I right, is the long haul actually better?