Patience. It is something we all want to have and like to see in others, but it is a difficult virtue to cultivate. It is not something most people come by naturally, though there are exceptions to this rule. I am not one of those exceptions. I have always struggled with being patient, and as I have prayed for patience in my life, God has given me situations I must be patient about.
Patience is one of the fruits of the Spirit, along with love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23. But what does that mean that it is a fruit of the Holy Spirit? It means that it is something we don’t come by naturally, but that if we put the Spirit in control of our thoughts and actions, we can exhibit this virtue. Having tried this, I know it is true. I am much more patient than I once was, and I attribute that to God giving me patience through His Holy Spirit.
It is most difficult to be patient when we are going through difficult times, when we have prayed over and over about some situation such as an ongoing illness, but feel like we have not received an answer. It is times like these that I have been drawn to the Psalms. One Psalm in particular that I like is this one:
For the director of music. With stringed instruments. According to sheminith. A psalm of David.
1O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger
or discipline me in your wrath.
2 Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am faint;
O LORD, heal me, for my bones are in agony.
3 My soul is in anguish.
How long, O LORD, how long?
4 Turn, O LORD, and deliver me;
save me because of your unfailing love.
5 No one remembers you when he is dead.
Who praises you from the grave?
6 I am worn out from groaning;
all night long I flood my bed with weeping
and drench my couch with tears.
7 My eyes grow weak with sorrow;
they fail because of all my foes.
8 Away from me, all you who do evil,
for the LORD has heard my weeping.
9 The LORD has heard my cry for mercy;
the LORD accepts my prayer.
10 All my enemies will be ashamed and dismayed;
they will turn back in sudden disgrace.
I imagine this Psalm as it was intended, set to the music of stringed instruments. I am encouraged by the fact that King David, known as a man after God’s own heart, was sometimes impatient and cried out to God “How long?” But even so, David knew that God accepted his prayer and would eventually answer the prayer when the time was right.
God’s timing is different than ours; I suspect it is much better. We want something now; He wants to give us even better later. He has a plan. I just sometimes wish I knew what it was, and I wish I knew right now!