Out of all the characteristics that men deal with, Patience has got to be the hardest to exercise. In fact, out of all the aspects of God that we are to reflect, it’s the one we show the least. It’s not just because of society’s “instant gratification” culture. The inability to exercise patience is innate. To show it means we are purposely doing so. Several emotions fight against it; but through the strength of Christ, patience can be cultivated.
One of the emotions that feeds into a lack of patience is anger. When we get angry, we have a tendency to rail against people, and even God. Anger isn’t always negative however, because we can have righteous indignation. The difference comes in the motives for us being angry. Are we upset about a personal affrontage, or is it something that would grieve the Holy Spirit? Examining the reasons for our anger will help form an appropriate response.
Want to know what really tests our patience? It’s frustration, and not just with people, but with God as well. There are a myriad of reasons we become frustrated with relationships and people. The reasons all have one common denominator though: us. We become frustrated by the expectations that WE PUT on others. People don’t have to meet our standards, but God’s.
But what about when we become frustrated with God?
Woooo…this is a doozy. The problem isn’t that God can’t live up to our expectations; it’s that we can’t live up to His. At least not consistently. We have ideas on how things should be, how people should act, and how situations should turn out. God decides all of this though. He is in control, and that is the issue for us. We can’t control these things, so we get frustrated. Learning that we need to “let go and let God” will help us deal with our control issues, as well as increase our patience.
Another emotion that tests patience is feeling misunderstood. It feeds our frustration. There are two ways to handle it. We can let it fuel angst and anger, which can lead to sin. Or, we can channel it and acknowledge that not everyone will “get” us. Just remember that Jesus was misunderstood by His own family, and disciples. If the Son of God was misunderstood by those closest to Him, we shouldn’t be surprised when we are too. Living for God will cause misunderstanding at times; it’s His choice to clear up what He wants.
Since it is God’s choice to make things clear or not, it’s up to us to beseech Him for clarity. We tend to misunderstand, for instance, when we desire something and do not receive it. There are either two reasons we don’t get what we want: it’s not meant for us to have, or God has something better for us. Neither is acceptable to us when seeking instant gratification. We want what we want when we want it, not even realizing that what we want could be detrimental to us. Yet, in those other times, God will allow us to gain what our heart desires, even though He had something better in mind. In either case, we must pray for 1) peace of mind, 2) the ability to trust the Lord and 3) the provision of what He knows we need.
God provides the tests that cultivate our patience; it’s up to us to pass them.