Patience. This is the hard one. For me.
There seem to be few things that have tried, tested, and perhaps on my better days even grown patience in me like motherhood has. I know that this one line might feel disqualifying to those of you who aren’t moms, but just hang in there with me. Patience applies to us all.
When I became a mom, I had no idea how hard patience would be for me. I had heard all about how my selfishness would be exposed, how exhausted I would feel, how everything would change, which were all true, but I’m not sure I was prepared to struggle so very much with patience. As my son gets older, I find myself telling him these words often:
“You need to be patient.”
While true and necessary, I’m not really sure how helpful those five words are to my 3 1/2 year old. Especially considering our foundation of understanding how these fruit of the Spirit are produced and grow in us (by abiding in Christ), I’m forced to think about my words a bit more, especially in my parenting method here.
Patience is so difficult for us because it requires waiting, and waiting is not something that we naturally do well. We have structured our lives in whatever ways possible to avoid waiting. But what if there is a prize to be found within the waiting?
Back to my 3 1/2 year old son…teaching spiritual truths to a toddler can be tricky. If we’re really honest with ourselves, there are many times we struggle to understand them for ourselves. I find myself praying A LOT about this, asking God to give me words at his level that will make sense to him. I remember one time when He did.
It had been a particularly hard parenting day, and I was trying to force my son to be patient. Anybody else ever failed at this one too? I finally got down on my knees to look him in the eye and said, “Buddy, you need to wait with a happy heart.”
Whoa! It was one of those moments when you feel like the Holy Spirit speaks right through you, and in that moment, I was struck by the utter simplicity of patience: Waiting with a happy heart. This is something we CAN do. Waiting is inevitable. We’ll never run out of opportunities to wait, but we have a choice in how we will respond in the waiting.
“Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act.” Psalm 37:7a NLT
I love Psalm 37 in its entirety for many reasons, but the one reason that rises to the surface is that it’s all about trusting in the Lord and waiting on Him. As you read through each verse in this Psalm, you can find one of those two themes. Interesting, isn’t it? To be still in the Lord’s presence would require trust. Waiting patiently for Him to move and act on your behalf would require trust.
Trusting in the Lord.
Waiting on the Lord.
The two cannot be separated. Trusting in the Lord in the waiting is what it looks like to wait well…patience…to wait with a happy heart, confident that God will be who He promises to be for us in His Word. He’s going to act, it’s just a matter of when. His promise will prove true. Therefore, we can wait well, because we are waiting on the One who never fails, never disappoints. The fruit of the Spirit of patience is a reminder to us today to trust in the good and faithful character of God. Waiting in that place of trust…that’s patience.