One Of The Great Tests In Life Is Patience
-- And When We Fail We Are Tested Again
By Michael H. Brown
Patience is a virtue. It's also one of the hardest things in life. In fact, call it life's great test. And think of the ways you're tested every day on it! We're constantly confronted with people and situations and things that try, tempt, and even torture our patience!
Especially in our rush-rush, instant-gratification, me-first culture, patience is in danger of extinction. Yet it's what God wants to see: love, equanimity, a balanced spirit. And one of the gauges is patience. That's because patience speaks to spiritual maturity. It means moderation. It's a synonym for resignation. It takes a developed soul to be patient and that's what God is doing with us here on earth: developing us and waiting for us to resign ourselves to Him.
Patience also takes humility, and that means we have to place others before ourselves on a constant basis. We all know how crucial being humble was to Jesus, and the New Testament tells us to give "no cause for offense in anything... but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger, in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love..." That's from 2 Corinthians 6, and note how it connects patience to love -- granting us insight into why it is so very important.
As Galatians notes, "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness."
So we see patience right up there with faith!
Patience gives God the room to operate.
What happens when we are not patient?
As the cliche says, haste makes waste. We don't produce quality. We disrupt our relationships. We even put ourselves in danger: Watch an impatient driver taking chances by passing a slower car when it's not wise to pass a car and you get the point.
Does that mean we always sit back and let everyone roll over us? Not quite. But we are to exercise longsuffering to the max, and when we correct another person, it's to be done, says 2 Timothy, with "great patience." Those with faith and patience, we are told (Hebrews 6), "inherit the promise." It's only then that we find peace. Ever notice how impatience robs you of your tranquility?
So when we want favors from the Lord, when we want to progress, when we want to find peace, we have to first overcome our fleshly tendency toward petulance. Watch how many times God will send you things and people to test you -- and try to pass each such test with a conscious effort at patience! Look at it as God's invitation to be like Him, and look upon those who cause distress, or things that stretch your patience, as gifts (good tests that we have the opportunity to pass).
When we see it that way, it enhances our longsuffering and our ability to love. What about trials? Instead of just begging for relief during tribulation, we should pray to handle the situation the way God wants us to handle it and to evolve patiently instead of simply trying to escape it.
This is why suffering is sent: to help us grow. And when we meet such challenges, grace flows. What happens when we don't? It's not like God flunks us. He just re-enrolls us! The more impatient we are, the more we'll encounter tests of patience!
On the other hand, the more patient we are, the easier (eventually) will become the tests. And the more we will give and receive love.
This is the most critical point. For love is kind. Love is patient. And paradise is love.
Thus we see that patience is not just a virtue but a requirement for Heaven!
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