So not one of my ‘natural’ better qualities.
I’m in a season of realising more and more how much I crave instant gratification, and have my whole life, so that gives you some idea of how I lived through a process that took 7 years from God telling me to pray for our marriage to be restored, to us coming back together.
Not very patiently, at all.
I should back up a bit – when God first spoke to me about being married again to my husband, I did not want that to happen. At all. Ever. It took another nearly 3 years before my heart changed, before God changed my heart to that being what I wanted, to that becoming the desire of my heart. For me, the true test of patience came once I realised I had fallen in love with my husband again, and then had to wait and see what would happen.
It was a situation where so many elements were completely out of my control, and the only thing I could do was to keep trusting God that His promises were true, and to wait. Like I said, not one of my strong points.
The King James Version of ‘Love is patient’ reads ‘Charity suffereth long’. Strong’s Concordance translates ‘suffereth long’ as:
(I) ‘to be of a long spirit, not to lose heart’, (A) ‘to persevere patiently and bravely in enduring misfortunes and troubles’
Merriam-Webster defines patient as:
1: bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint2: manifesting forbearance under provocation or strain3: not hasty or impetuous4: steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity5a : able or willing to bear —used with of
Able or willing to bear.
To be of a long spirit.
Not to lose heart.
To persevere patiently and bravely.
I only read these words in the last couple of days as I sought out the definition of and the Biblical application of the word ‘patient’, and I discovered the simple description of what is was to wait on the promise God gave me, one that initially I didn’t believe. Let’s just say that I was not a picture of patience by these definitions.
So many times, I grew impatient, I did lose heart, and I gave up on seeing His promise fulfilled. I tried to rush things because I didn’t think God was making things happen when they should. I got sick of waiting. I thought ‘if it hasn’t happened by now, it will never happen’. I thought I knew how it should all happen.
I would have times when I could hardly physically bear the longing, the desperation of wanting to see His promise to me, to us, come to life, when the love I felt for my husband was almost crippling, and I wondered how on earth I could keep living like this. I told myself that this was the cross I had to bear for not ‘getting it right’ in our marriage the first time, and sometimes told myself that actually, I had it all wrong, this wasn’t really what God had in mind for us. But deep within, in a place I have yet to uncover inside myself, I knew, without a doubt, that I was wrong, that His promise was true, and that when His timing was perfect, I would see it come to life.
And I did. We’re now living the fulfilment of His promise, and He’s nowhere near finished with us yet. It wasn’t until I gave up on trying to do everything in my power, and came to a quiet acceptance that I just had to be patient and keep trusting and waiting that anything changed. And it wasn’t God that changed. It was each of us, being made into who He intended us to be all along.
God is each of those definitions of patience. He is not hasty, He is steadfast and doesn’t lose heart with us, He waits patiently for us. And this is how we are to love, not just our spouses but everyone in our lives – our kids, family, friends, work colleagues, everyone who comes across our path in life. I know every time I take a deep breath and wait a few moments in those frustrating situations with my kids, the end result is always so much better than when I give into my initial impulse and just yell at them. When I take the time to listen to a friend and feel some of the pain or struggle they’re experiencing, they feel more loved and encouraged than if I just told them what I thought and what they should do.
This is what God does with us, how He loves us, and so this is how we need to love each other. It’s really very simple, but it is so hard to put into practice, because we’re not God. A deep breath, count to 5, and asking Him for His heart makes such a difference in how we love.
Guns ‘n’ Roses had it right all along, a little patience is all we need. It doesn’t take much, but it can make a huge difference. I’ll leave you with this classic for your viewing pleasure, and in the meantime, tell me, how do you ‘practice’ patience? For me, it’s a whole lot of deep breathing and clamping my mouth shut before I let the words come out. There are times when I’m very, very quiet……..
” Therefore continue to wait in hope, for although the promise may linger, it will never come too late”
– Charles Spurgeon
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