Growing patience through thankfulness – Fruit of the Spirit: Patience, Part 4

In Colossians 1:11 Paul writes a prayer that includes an important teaching about how to become more patient. Paul prayed that the people would be “strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father.”  Now that’s interesting.  Thankfulness and patience together.  When you are walking in step with the Spirit, you are thankful for the opportunity to be patient.  How does that grab you?  I so often hate being in the situation that is requiring me to be patient. 

In Philippians 4:6-7 Paul writes, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God, and the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  This verse reminds me that there is a close connection between peace and patience.  When we are in a situation requiring us to practice patience, so often we are not feeling peace.  Paul says, at that moment, “Present your requests to God and be thankful.”  Yes, Paul is suggesting that we pray something like this: “Lord, I am thankful for having to practice patience.” 

What do you do if you’re not thankful?  Be honest.  Tell it to God.  “Lord, I’m struggling right now.  I know I should be thankful in all circumstances, but I’m having a hard time with this situation.  I want to be thankful so that I can experience peace.  I want to be patient the way you are patience.   But I’m not you.  I’m struggling.”  That sounds a lot like lament, doesn’t it? 

When you read the psalms of lament, they are people really struggling with patience.  The psalms of lament say things like, “How long are you going to wait before you rescue me from this horrible situation, Lord?  I’m dying here.  I need you now!  Wake up, Lord!  Why are you sleeping on the job???”  Psalms of lament seem to be the opposite of patience, don’t they? 

They’re not. Psalms of lament are faithful expressions of honest struggle to God.  They are human.  Lament flows from people who are wrestling with the tug-of-war that is pain of life on the one side, and trying to be faithfully patient on the other.

If you are struggling with a situation, godly patience cries out to God in the middle of the situation.  Lament is that cry to the Lord, coming from a faithful place, saying “Lord, I need you.  I want to be patience.  I don’t know that I can keep this up, Lord.  Help!” 

God is not duty-bound to answer our lament they way we believe he should answer.  He might.  It is so awesome when he does.  But he might not.  When God doesn’t answer, and we must keep waiting, that does not make him evil.  It also doesn’t mean that he doesn’t care, or that he is not trustworthy.  Even when we are waiting well beyond how long we think we should be waiting, God may not step in.  We may need to keep struggling as we wait.  Those are the difficult moments when we learn godly patience by having an opportunity to practice godly patience. When we walk in step with the Spirit, we will grow patience. 

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Published by joelkime

I love my wife, Michelle, and our four kids and two daughters-in-law. I serve at Faith Church and love our church family. I teach a course online from time to time, and in my free time I love to read and exercise, especially running,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: