Patience is micro and macro. It is an everyday battle and a lifelong war. We need patience in the middle of a toddler tantrum, in the frustration of a family disagreement, and in rush hour traffic. Amidst burnt dinners and burned friendships, in seasons of suffering and in seasons of want, the need for patience is consistent from the moment we wake up to the moment we lay our heads to bed. And, in some ways, patience is even more necessary for the Christian, as we wait for the troubles of this world to be swallowed by the neverending glory of Christ. Patience is hard. But patience matters.
Why Patience Matters
Patience matters because patience images God, the founder and perfector of patience. Even from the first pages of Genesis, God did not snap His fingers and create the world in a nanosecond. He created systematically, orderly, and over the span of six days. God was patient in His formation of creation. And when mankind disobeyed His command, God did not oust humanity from the world but instead began to write a story of redemption that would save His people from their sin. Though the Israelites wandered from Him over and over again, God remained patient and provided His people with a Messiah, just as He promised. And when the promised Messiah finally entered the world, Christ did not balk at the mess of humanity or give up on God’s people. Jesus tenderly healed, lovingly taught, and patiently endured the brutality of death upon a cross (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus is God’s patience incarnate—God’s patience in flesh.
But Christ is not done. Scripture promises us that Christ will come back to secure full and final victory over Satan. Evil will be extinguished once and for all. Jesus’s kingdom will be fully established.
But why doesn’t Christ come now? Is God delaying?
The answer is, “No, God isn’t delaying.” In fact, Scripture tells us in 2 Peter 3:9 that “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” Therefore, God does not delay for delaying’s sake, but He is extending patience that we do not deserve, providing ample opportunity for those in darkness to come into the light.
Now that we understand the importance of patience and that it is one of God’s attributes. We will discuss three things to remember and three tips to implement as you cultivate patience in your own life. However, as we discuss the items below, it is important to remember that ultimately none of this will be done in your strength, rather cultivating patience in your life requires His Spirit working in you to transform your heart to look more like Christ.
Remember God’s Patience Toward You
As we seek to grow in patience, there is no better motivator than gratefulness. If you have trusted in Christ as your Savior, God has forgiven you of your sin and called you His child. What a privilege! What a joy! Out of this humbling truth, we are spurred on to extend the same compassion we have received to our family and friends.
Tip #1: Preach the Gospel to Yourself. Unfortunately, it is no secret that humans are forgetful beings. In the midst of our busy schedules and routines, we are tempted to ignore the good news of the gospel. Therefore, we must be diligent to remind ourselves of the patience we’ve received through Jesus Christ our Lord. Keep verse cards on your bathroom mirror, encouragements on your dashboard, and your Bible open on your coffee table. Surround yourself with the truth of God’s Word.
Keep In Step With The Spirit
As hard as we may try, patience is not something that we can muster up by our own strength. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit that is grown within the heart of a believer as the Holy Spirit transforms him or her into the image of Christ (Galatians 5:22). Therefore, the best way we can cultivate patience in our everyday lives is to “keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25) or live in daily dependence and surrender to Jesus. But it’s easier said than done.
Keeping in step with the Spirit requires us to bite our tongues when we are tempted to speak out of frustration. Keeping in step with the Spirit requires us to slow down our pace and submit ourselves to prayer. Keeping in step with the Spirit requires us to lay down our lives for the sake of the gospel. In this step-by-step, moment-by-moment dependence upon the Lord, patience grows.
Tip #2: Be Faithful in Prayer: God delights in the prayers of His children. Cultivate a habit of prayer, bringing big and small frustrations before the Lord and asking Him to grant you patience to endure.
The End Goal of Patience
Finally, we must remember that the everyday exercise of patience has a purpose. The Holy Spirit empowers believers to make real progress in patience throughout their daily lives.The patience we strive to extend to those around us builds our spiritual muscles so that we may become patient for the ultimate wait—the wait for Christ’s return.
Christ promises that we will suffer on this side of heaven, but Jesus also promises that He has overcome the world (John 16:33). Jesus will one day come back to bring the fullness of His kingdom down to earth. There will be no more tears, no more sicknesses, and no more death. In this sure future, our hope rests. Therefore, Christ’s Church must be patient, waiting as a farmer waits for crops to harvest (James 5:7–8).
Tip #3: Be Patient with Your Developing Patience. The Holy Spirit will continue to develop patience in our hearts until the day our sanctification is complete. Do not expect to master patience overnight, but instead, use your growing patience as an opportunity to practice humility. Admit to others and to yourself that you are a work in progress, being daily refined by the Holy Spirit. Allow your humility to place you in awe of our Father, who is consistently patient and wonderfully kind.
Finally, remember that the life of a Christian is one of patience. We wait to meet our beloved Jesus face to face. We wait in patient expectation as the Holy Spirit transforms us into the image of Christ. We wait in trust of our Father to work all things together for His glory. Let us not allow our waiting to be wasted, but instead, let’s draw close to God as the Holy Spirit does His work of making us look more like Christ.
Additional resources on cultivating patience