The Season for Patience

All of us are born being impatient. Spend anytime around a baby and you realize they have no desire to wait for anything and are happy to let you know it. Unfortunately, many people also leave this world still struggling to overcome impatience. Through the years I’ve had people ask me to pray for them for patience. I try to counsel them against it and this writer explains why: “I asked God to grant me patience. God said “No. Patience is a by-product of tribulations; it isn’t granted, it is earned.”

I think in part that is true. Christmas is certainly a time of tribulation and thus a season for patience. Consider the lines in stores as you buy your last minute items. How about the bidding on Ebay trying to outbid for the perfect gift? Consider waiting on the deliveries from UPS, FedEx and the US Postal Team. What a great place to experience tribulation: the roads around metro Atlanta. Of course let us not forget counting the days on the calendar till Christmas. What is the tribulation you find yourself facing?

Last year about this time, Brandon and I drove out the Monastery in Conyers. In talking with the monks, it struck me how down to earth they really are. You may wonder, why would a monk be impatient? Don't they become monks so that they don't have to deal with the world? Yes, that's true. So imagine how impatient this monk was...
The more he tried, the more impatient he became, so he decided that he must get away altogether, to learn to be patient. So he built himself a little home deep in the woods, far away from civilization.

Years later, a man was traveling in those woods and met him. The man was amazed to find anyone living so far away from the rest of the world, so he asked the monk why he was there all by himself. The monk said that he was there to learn to be patient. The traveler asked how long he had been there, and the monk replied: seven years. Stunned, the traveler asked, "If there is no one around to bother you, how will you know when you are patient?" Annoyed, the monk replied, "Get away from me, I have no time for you."

Patience isn’t formed in private. Patience is formed with people.

Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door. As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. (James 5:7-10 NASB)

The monk in our story didn’t get this but the traveler did and so does James. Patience is something which is formed with people. If we are praying for patience in the midst of dealing with someone, rest assured, God is answering your prayer!!!

Patience isn’t procrastination. Patience is perseverance.

And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. (Luke 2:25-26 NASB)

I have been procrastinating going to the dermatologist knowing she’d recognize the spots on my face as early skin cancer. Procrastination puts up with delay. Patience hopes and looks forward. We aren’t the first ones to long for the coming of the Christ. Simeon was looking with patience.

Patience isn’t just a modification in behavior. Patience is the Spirit’s gift of making us better.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 NASB)

Patience isn’t just a modification in behavior. Patience is the Spirit’s gift of making us better. You aren’t going to positively think your way to patience. There are no techniques that will truly make patience happen. It is part of the journey to wholeness, what the Bible calls holiness.

So when we look at the story of God, we discover finally that

Patience isn’t just good. Patience is of God.

We know from Moses’ words that God is “… compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; (Exodus 34:6 NASB). Patience resides in the character of God and so is a gift made possible by His love for us.

Christmas is indeed the season for patience. The stories of the Old Testament and prophets reveal not the patience of humanity but the patience of God. It is the story of God waiting patiently and acting compassionately and justly to humanity…“But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption…” (Galatians 4:4-5 NASB)

Tis the season for patience. Do you remeber the prayer for for patience at the beginning? After God said “no” to the writer's prayer for patience, she, “…next asked God to help her LOVE others, as much as He loves her. God said…Ahhhh………. finally you have the idea!” The more we come to live and love as God does, the more patience becomes our way of life.

May I Ask: How often do you find yourself impatient? Why?

May I Suggest: Pray first for God to help you love others and then act throughout your day with compassion - practicing patience.


Brandon said...

I was surprised when you preached on patience today. Just because it's been the primary thing that's been driving me up the wall recently. Or perhaps for a bit too long to say recently. I know the things that I want in my life. And I also trust that God has good things in store, but I lack the patience to see those things worked out naturally. And that lack of patience feels very unfaithful to me. But maybe you're right. Maybe I'm earning a bit more patience.

Ken L. Hagler said...

Thanks for your thoughts Brandon. I think there is a lot of misunderstanding about the Fruits of the Spirit.

To Today's American Hypocrites: Your post was inappropriate and uncalled for. I have never deleted someone's post before but your's had nothing to do with the subject at all. It was hateful and uncalled for. If you'd like to post that on your site, fine. It doesn't belong here.

I would encourage you to do your homework on skin cancer. Visit and learn more such as:

Are Some People More Prone to Sun Damage?

Everyone's skin and eyes can be damaged by the sun and other UV rays. Although people with light skin are more likely to have sun damage, darker-skinned people, including African Americans and Hispanic Americans, also can be affected.

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