There are certain perks when it comes to living in a metropolitan area like I do. Do you have a sudden craving for a specific type of food? It’s available because many of the restaurants are open late, some even open 24 hours. Feeling bored and want to do something fun? The possibilities are endless when it comes to the big city! From the beaches to the famous landmarks, there’s always something to do in the city of Angels.
The trick though is getting to your destination. In a city of 4 million people, heavy traffic is bound to take place. There are simply too many people on the road at the same time! Out of all the experiences one would so desperately want to have in LA, driving on the freeway in rush hour is not what you would want to sign up for. And none is worse than the notoriously feared 405 freeway.
It’s so critically acclaimed, that billboards on the side of the 405 make fun of the traffic in their advertisements. The problem is, only a small window of opportunity to drive is available; otherwise, you’re stuck in a sea of brake lights inching towards your destination. This seemingly road to perdition typically breeds erratic drivers as they take advantage at all costs to cut in line. You can be accompanied by emotions rising, tenses tightening and marked by an unpleasant attitude. Once you finally arrive at your safe haven, you make a mental note to self to never drive on the 405 in rush hour again and strategically plan future events around traffic to make sure of it.
Are you feeling stressed from reading it? I was trying not to from writing it!
Traffic –like so many things in our life – is just one of the countless areas of frustration that can come against us. The circumstances we face are bound to tempt us to annoyance or anger. While we cannot always avoid planning around situations, people, and feelings that cause impatience, we can develop the character needed to not allow irritability to consume us.
One of the fruits of the Spirit that Christ-followers can cultivate and maintain is called the fruit of patience (Galatians 5:22-23). Fruit of the Spirit is the evidence that the Holy Spirit is working in one’s life. Yes, the fruit represents what type of tree it is and the fruit is a byproduct of its health. The benefit of the fruit is not necessarily for the tree itself, but for those who come and eat its fruit.
“Taste and see that the Lord is good!” – Psalm 34:8
What better way for others to know who God is by our patient disposition? Perhaps that’s the reason why the first quality listed in the renowned love chapter of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 is patience. Patience has the remarkable ability to diffuse difficult situations. It carries with it a peace that you obtain that doesn’t cause you rush into rash decisions. Patience minimizes fights and ensures tempers do not flare. It’s a fruit that should be persistently pursued if we want to live the Spirit-filled life in everyday life.
I’ve heard people say, “I don’t want to pray for patience because then God will put me through something where I have to learn it!” This is not correct. I think there’s already enough on our plate that we can learn how to be patient with what we have, and so we ask God to help us through it. He’s not going to pile more on us! Instead, we think about the areas of our lives now where we need more patience. Yet I believe there’s a better way we can ask.
As we know, patience is the byproduct of love. We are told to love others as part of great commandment (Mark 12:30-31). Therefore, how we best represent Christ and what we are called to do is in the context of relationships. Yet it is the people in our lives that can drive us to be the most impatient!
Perhaps Paul took that into consideration when he wrote Ephesians 4:2 – “[that we are] to be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing one another in love.” Did you get that? We are called to bear with one another patiently. This means that when the person we cherish is late (even if it is a usual occurrence), we treat them with love. Patience allows us to sit and listen to those personalities that might irk us because they need us to be God’s ears. We remind ourselves of how much God loves them despite their brokenness or selfishness and we patiently endure with them.
There’s another facet to the patience that we must consider when we pursue patience – it’s trust. Specifically, trust in God. Scripture is full of passages encouraging us to be patient as we wait:
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” – Romans 12:12
“But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” – Romans 8:25
“You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.” – James 5:8
When it comes to more patience, I find that I need more love for people and more trust in God. I think about some of the situations that I’m currently facing in this season of waiting – am I trusting that God will deliver on His promises? If so, then I can wait well and be patient. My patience demonstrates my reliance on God’s word and that He has the best timing in mind. My patience is an act of surrender to my desires that say, “not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).
When you become impatient regarding the circumstances of your life, it’s actually more trust that you’re needing at the moment. Even the last-minute traffic jam that has you feeling restless and frustrated – do you trust that God has everything under control, even if you’re late to your appointment? If you are currently suffering, do you trust that God can work through it, even if it’s not the results you’re looking for? Your patience is evidence that You actively trust in Him and not on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6).
I think we can all agree… we need more patience. It’s the pursuit and practice of patience that reveal we are walking in the Spirit and for others to know the great God we serve. Patience identifies God’s inclination towards us – He’s patient so more people can accept Christ (see 2 Peter 3:8-9). Every day that goes by is another opportunity for us to give the Good News. Thank you Lord for your patience towards us!
For this week, let patience characterize your life. Think through those people you quickly get impatient with and ask the Father, “will you give me more love towards this person? Can you give me the same heart that you have for them?” Now bring up those promises you are struggling to wait for and ask, “Can you give me more trust in this area of my life?” You can also consider the areas that you typically get impatient on a whim – on the road, in the workplace, etc. You can ask the Lord a question such as, “what is root issue underlying my impatience? Lack of control? Underperformed or failed expectations? Selfishness? Our fallen world is ripening with the opportunities to be patient, isn’t it? The Lord can use all the things we go to forge our character to look at Christ. Be patient… God is at work in you!
Have a blessed week!