“Patience is a virtue . . . you get it from your kids.”
“God give me patience . . . and I want it now!”
We laugh about patience, joke about it even, but how many of us work at getting it? We treat it as though it’s something one is born with, and if we don’t have it – well, we don’t have it and that’s that.
“I have no patience with that man,” someone will say, as though he has no choice or it’s the other man’s fault.
James doesn’t see it that way. “Be patient,” he told Christians who were scattered in exile, living in a world that wasn’t kind to them. Just do it. Be it. He reminds me of my mother, who used to tell me when I was moping to “Be happy” – or go to my room until I could figure out how.
“Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it until it receives the early and the late rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”
The Greek word translated “patience” in James 5 is makrothumia. “Longsuffering.” This is not the patience we normally think of, which involves tolerating rush-hour traffic or the antics of small children. Webster’s defines it first as “bearing or enduring pain, trouble, etc. without complaining or losing self-control; refusing to be provoked or angered…; forbearing; tolerant; … steady; diligent; persevering.”
There’s a lot of strength in patience.
Patience is important because there’s something precious to be won by practicing it. James gives an example from nature: a farmer plows a field, plants seed, does all he can to produce a harvest of precious grain or fruit. But all he can do is not enough. He must wait for the rains to come. In the fall, the early rains soften the ground for planting and start germination. In the spring, the late rains enable the fruit to mature.
The farmer can wait patiently because he knows those rains are going to come. We can wait patiently because we know the Lord will come and make things right. Injustice will be judged; the poor, afflicted, and righteous will be rewarded; pain will be changed for blessing. When he comes … and he will come.
Patience is a choice we make, or perhaps it comes from a thousand little daily choices. Patience is a way of life. It may seem like a lost virtue, but it is worth striving for.
According to James, patient endurance leads to maturity and wholeness (1:4) and carries us toward the “crown of life” God promises to those who love him (1:12). It leads to happiness (5:11), which in the Bible means being endowed with every blessing.
I used to read a devotional book by Oswald Chambers called My Utmost for His Highest. In it, he has this to say about patience:
“Patience is more than endurance. A saint’s life is in the hands of God like a bow and arrow in the hands of an archer. God is aiming at something the saint cannot see, and He stretches and strains, and every now and again the saint says–‘I cannot stand anymore.’ God does not heed, He goes on stretching till His purpose is in sight, then He lets fly. Trust yourself in God’s hands. Maintain your relationship to Jesus Christ by the patience of faith. ‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.”
Let’s strive to be patient.
No, let’s BE patient. May God give us the grace we need.
©2020 Sarah Christmyer
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CHARLES AZZOPARDI says
THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST FAVOURITE ARTICLES AS IT TEACHES ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
CONGRATULATIONS, AND KEEP GOING ON YOUR COMMUNICATION AS THEY IMPART TEACHING FOR OUR LIFE IN PEACE.
Like the songs says: “All we need is a little patience. Just a little patience, yea!” Beautiful reflection, we all could use a hefty dose of patience. Lord, strengthen me to be patient as I wait for your call. Strenghten me to surrender to your will.
Andrea Duguay says
Thank you for your wise thoughts on the virtue of patience (and for me a lack of strong faith and self control goes along with my lack of patience, well maybe trust too!)
Yikes, I believe I’m lacking many virtues so it makes sense that patience would be in the mix.
It struck me when you stated, “Patience is a choice we make, or perhaps from 1000 daily choices.” That resonated with me because it seems to me that it’s the 1001 that does me in. I believe I discovered that I am a week person and truly do need to practice patience in order to allow it to become a permanent part of my life.
I won’t give up, as I too desire happiness and true joy.
I know it’s said a great deal but I am fervently resolved to ask God for His help because I believe that He wills it for me .
It is tantamount to change and grow because I believe when I truly reflect on the lack of patience, that this is the number one sin I confess in confession.
I realize that all is always possible with God and His graces and blessings. That’s what my head, heart, and soul believe. I need to grow in my faith through my relationship with Jesus and attain these most important virtues. I will keep trying, especially with my lack of patience with my husband.
I will copy this statement by Oswald Chambers – “Though He slay me, yet will I TRUST in Him.” I will read it every day to help keep me focused on my daily quest for a pure heart and eternity with our Lord.
On another note, I want to thank you for your words in your book, Becoming Women of the Word. I am finding these beautiful women you highlighted, coming alive for me in my life. I am reading it with a friend so that we can share our thoughts.
Your words help me to see how these beautiful, very courageous women’s use their faith to help them to be prudent and trust God in their struggles and heartaches. Their faith journeys & lessons can teach us important lessons and show us creativity even though we are centuries apart.
Sarah Christmyer says
Thank you for your comments on patience, Andrea. God bless you! And thank you for your kind words about “Becoming Women of the Word.” I am glad to know these Old Testament women are helping others as they have helped me.