By Bill Brandstatter
A preacher I once knew had a sign on his desk that read “Lord, give me patience, and give it to me right now.” That is the way we often are with patience. I heard, growing up, the statement, “Don’t ever pray for patience.” Yet, the Bible teaches learning patience can be beneficial to us. It is the learning of it that often gives us problems.
I have often considered myself to be a very patient person, yet during the last three months, I have had to learn it even more. People have told me to have more patience. James wrote: “Knowing the testing of your faith produces patience; but let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2-4 NKIV) According to James, learning patience can make us more complete as a Christian. He also states we should pray for wisdom in chapter 1:5. My understanding is that he is referring to wisdom to deal with trials and to learn patience.
The Bible gives us examples of patience. God is the ultimate example. Peter tells us, “When once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is eight souls, were saved through water.” (1 Pet. 3:20)
Peter also tells us more about God’s patience. His patience is for our benefit. In 2 Pet. 3:9, he writes: “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
James tells us the prophets are examples of patience: “My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience” (James 5:10 NKJV). When we think about how long many of the prophets preached and what all they went through we can learn from their examples.
Job was a perfect example of patience. He lost everything and still did not charge God foolishly. (Job 1:22) At the end of the book of Job, he was rewarded for his faithfulness and his patience. The Bible says, “And the LORD restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed, the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.” (Job 42:10)
Let us learn to be patient. It doesn’t come naturally. God may be putting us through a trial in our lives to help us learn patience. If so, it will make us better people to deal with the affairs of this life. It will help us in teaching others. It will better prepare us for heaven, our ultimate goal.