The fruit of patienceOnline Only, Section 4A, Where's the Faith? Sunday, October 1st, 2017
As a progressive Christian, I believe there are many names for God and many ways to a loving God; this article reflects one of those ways. Take from here what works for you. Celebrate life with joy and peace!
Now, I don’t want to rush the year any faster than it’s already going, but let’s talk about Christmas for a second. During Advent, which is the four Sundays prior to Christmas Eve, we follow a beautiful liturgical ritual of lighting candles in our Advent wreath in anticipation of the birth of the baby that would change the world. We light candles for hope, and for love, joy and peace – the first three fruits of the spirit. So, why don’t we light a candle for patience?
Patience is a strange creature; it’s not always easy to have patience. There’s a story of someone asking a friend, “Will you please pray for me that I may be more patient?” So the friend began to pray, “Lord, send my friend tribulation in the morning; send her tribulation in the afternoon, and send her …” At this point, the friend shouted, “No, no! I didn’t ask you to pray for problems or even worse, tribulation! I asked you to pray for patience.”
“Ah,” replied the older and wiser friend, “it’s through the trials and tribulations that we learn patience.”
If you’re like me, we want patience and we want it now!
So, what is patience? Let’s look at some definitions:
- Patience is self-restraint which does not quickly retaliate against a wrong.
- Patience is the ability to accept delay or disappointment graciously.
- Patience is the powerful attribute that enables one to remain calm under stress and pressure and continue to keep on going.
- Patience is the calm endurance based on the certain knowledge that God is in control.
Even though we can acknowledge God is in control, and we are able to remain calm under pressure, the truth is, we live in an impatient world. It feels like everything has to move at lightning speed. I mean, if it takes more than a couple of seconds for our cell phone signal to travel 36,000km (22,300miles) to a satellite orbiting the Earth and come back, connected to another line, we wonder what in the world is wrong with our antiquated phone service! Patience.
That patience being addressed in Galatians 5 is from the Greek work “hypomone” which is a compound word, made up of two words: hypo “under” and moneo “to remain” or “abide.” The idea being, to “remain under” or “abide under” difficult circumstances, when it’s not possible to escape or avoid them.
We all feel at times that God is nowhere to be found. We say, “God, where are you?” “If God loved me, things would be different.” “Since things are going the way they are, God must be upset with me.” “If God is so loving and kind, why are these difficult things happening in my life?” “Why doesn’t God answer my prayer?” “I don’t know how much longer I can go on like this!”
The prophet Isaiah asks the same questions:
“Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God?’ Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the Earth. God does not faint or grow weary; God’s understanding is unsearchable. God gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” What a promise!
With the fruit of patience, you will persevere. God has not forgotten you. If God, the creator of the universe, calls out the stars by name every night, then God certainly knows your name and God knows when you’re exhausted and weary. What are we instructed to do in this case? Wait on God; you don’t have to do anything just wait and God will give you strength to soar like the eagles, and to run and not be weary, and to walk and not faint.
And the Apostle Paul compliments the Hebrew Scriptures in Philippians 4 by saying: “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Being able to endure difficult circumstances well is to be patient in waiting; waiting for God and the strength God gives in our times of need. You can do this.
Wait on God. Be patient. Persevere. Don’t despair. Don’t give up. God will strengthen you.
I think this spiritual fruit of patience is well-placed in Paul’s list. He starts off by saying the fruit of the Spirit is love (that’s good!), then joy (that’s good too!), and peace (that’s really good!). Why not just stop there? Love, joy and peace: a perfect combination.
And then he adds patience. Why? It was all going so well. Maybe, because we all know that life isn’t only about love, joy and peace. It’s also about needing patience and strength in adversity and weathering the storm. God doesn’t save us from troubles; however, I know from personal experience, God provides strength in the midst of our troubles. Thank you, God!
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