Written by Kendra Clarke
Learning to exercise patience is probably one of the most difficult lessons we will ever have to learn in this life. Whoever coined the phrase “Nothing worth having ever comes easy” must have been talking about “patience”. We came into this world with a sinful, selfish nature and attitude with a “me” oriented mindset when as babies, we knew nothing about being patient and waiting to be fed, changed or held. It was our world and what we wanted and needed at that very moment took precedence over our parents’ needs, as our being attended to and our comfort were the only things that mattered. As children, our parents continued to sacrifice to ensure that we had what we needed though it often conflicted with what they needed, however, our happiness made them happy. As with everything in life, our childhoods flew on by though at the time, it couldn’t come soon enough. We all grew-up at some point and made that entrance into adulthood. 1 Corinthians 13:11 reminds us that,
“When we were children, we spoke and thought and reasoned as children. But when we grow up, we must put away childish things.”
Sadly as adults, many of us today still want it our way. Some will resort to crying, screaming and throwing temper tantrums like children to manipulate or control situations or other people, only that behavior is no longer considered cute and no one feels obligated to give them what they want, when they want it or jump when they say jump.
The Time Spent is Worth It
Having everything we want, when we decide we want it without putting in the time, work and the effort necessary is a disservice to us and it does nothing for strengthening our faith and our spiritual growth. In this scenario, we focus on ourselves and we never learn to fully depend on God for our livelihood and exercise faith in Him. Instead we begin to think too highly of ourselves and believe that all we have attained was obtained in our strength and by our own might and not by the grace of God. He understands this tendency in His creation quite well and has a knack for teaching us important lessons even when we are not in a learning mood. When we are forced to wait, we begin to hope and our faith kicks in with the anticipation of eventually reaping what we have sown; for Romans 8:25 tells us that,
“If we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”
If we are truly honest with ourselves we can admit that we tend to appreciate more that which we have to work hardest for rather than that which comes easy or is handed to us on a silver platter.
Patience is a Virtue
Many of us have heard that “Good things come to those who wait” and that “Patience is a virtue”. Unfortunately, it is a trait many of us lack and oftentimes never fully develop. Patience requires a constant and concerted effort to fend off the urge to manipulate or seize control. Why do we find it so difficult to be patient and just wait? Well, it could be that the very act of being patient requires an enormous amount of restraint to not attempt to pull strings to produce outcomes that are favorable to us. Maybe, it could be that we struggle with recognizing that we have to relinquish the need and the desire to control every aspect of our lives right down to the most, minute detail. The flesh wants what it wants, when it wants it and it doesn’t like the feeling of not being in complete and utter control. Galatians 5:17 provides some insight into this struggle between our flesh vs. our spirit,
“For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. These two forces are constantly fighting each other so that we are not free to carry out our good intentions”. Paul sums it up in Romans 7:15,
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate, I do.” Boy can we all relate to that!
We Can’t Control that which is External
Whatever the reason, we have to come to terms with the fact that we cannot control that which is external only those things which are internal. In essence, we can only control ourselves, our thoughts, our actions and how we react to and in any given situation, not what others say, do, think, act, etc. This is a difficult pill to swallow because it means admitting to ourselves that we are not the ones ultimately running this show, but our Creator. He is the only one in any position to change a situation on a dime or someone’s heart of stone. He has the power to place the right people along our path to help pull us into our purpose. Only He can salvage something good from our bad decisions and ill choices and turn our pain and disappointment into joy as Romans 8:28 tells us that,
“He causes everything to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to his purpose for them.”
He can bring us the peace that only comes when we relinquish our expectations and our plans for our future and submit to His will and purpose for our lives. This produces what is described in Philippians 4:7 as the, “Peace that surpasses all understanding”.
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