James 1:2-4 – “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” NKJV
I remember as a brand new Christian realizing I needed to learn patience so I prayed for patience. WOW! I prayed for patience and everything that could go wrong went wrong. I had more problems than I could handle and became frustrated. I went to my pastor and said, “But I prayed for patience!” He laughed and said, “How do you think patience comes? It is not a gift that God deposits in your heart without tests it is LEARNED!” That was a revelation for a new Christian and since that day I always put a warning label on the topic when I talk about patience with people. If you pray for patience expect opportunities to demonstrate patience. Now, I am not suggesting you do not pray for patience for it is a much needed character trait in our spiritual development but understand how it comes and is learned. Patience is usually on the job training and is learned in the midst of opportunities to be impatient.
Patience is a fruit not gift of the Spirit. It is a learned commodity not necessarily an inherited one. I readily acknowledge that some people have a temperament much more conducive to exhibiting patience than others. I believe we can help our children learn patience and impress upon them the need and value of patience and thereby help them to become more patient and less impatient. Unfortunately, we live in a world with a micro-wave mentality and with the computer technology of fast, faster and fastest we want everything yesterday if not sooner. Sadly, sometimes that is reflected in our relationship with God and our prayers. We submit a quick memo to God and expect an immediate response.
Paul prays for those in Colossae, “May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience.” (Colossians 1:11) We are told in Lamentations 3:25, “The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul that seeks Him.” Abraham learned patience through experience and although it took years for the promise to be realized it came. He could have cast away his confidence in God through impatience and he and Sarah did take matters in their own hands through impatience and the world is still paying for that act. Jesus, speaking of the Last Days instructed those listening, “By your patience possess your souls.” (Luke 21:19)
If you want to be strong you have to do things to become strong. In the natural you have to exercise and in the spiritual strength comes from spiritual exercise. Albeit quite different approaches but the same principle. In the natural you tear down the muscle to build the muscle and in the spiritual you tear down the old man to build the new man. One does not become adept at things instantly. I know that some are more naturally gifted than others thus we identify them as ‘natural born athletes’. Learning to deal with people is not automatic, for most, and the more we learn what works and does not work and the varying personalities we must deal with the more proficient we become. Parenting is a learning process and often we are much better with the 2nd or 3rd child than the first in many things. Skills are developed they cannot be purchased or downloaded. Patience is also a learned quality and to develop patience requires the existence of conditions in which it is challenged. Patience is easy when things are going good and we are not negatively impacted but difficult when they are not good.
So, if you prayed for patience you need to realize that YOU ASKED FOR IT and God is giving you opportunity to develop that for which you prayed! May the LORD continue to help you develop that which you desire and need to develop and mature in Him. Blessings!