A wit defined a nanosecond as the time interval between the traffic light turning green and the idiot in the car behind you pressing the horn! But we can all be like that—very short on patience! The dictionary defines patience as the quality of bearing provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like. Does that describe you? Probably not.
Unfortunately, impatience gets us nowhere really fast. Patience, on the other hand, reaps great rewards. It helps us achieve success in our endeavors. It enables us to make better life choices. It promotes better physical and mental health. Most of all, it helps us in our relationships. But how do we cultivate it? We can do a few things to help us become more patient.
One, let us remember that trials—even stuck behind a slow driver or having a fast one who honks behind us!—produce patience. So, let us welcome them and be grateful for them. As James says, ‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because the testing of your faith produces perseverance which leads to maturity” (James 1:2-4). As we are learning through these reflections, how we look at things makes a world of difference!
Two, let us look to Jesus, who is the ultimate model of patience, “and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1‑2). Nobody exhibited more patience than Jesus. To develop patience—or any of the other fruit—we have to be attached to him as a branch is attached to a tree (see John 15:1‑7). Therefore, a deep and solid relationship with Jesus is vital. Like love and kindness, patience is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23), but we need that connection with Jesus to bear it.
Three, let us pray for patience. However, let us keep in mind that God doesn’t pour it into our laps in answer to our prayer. He helps us develop patience through testing. Your kids will act up. Your spouse will be mean. A colleague will say something nasty. And, yeah, you will have that idiot honk you! Remember: “You are from God, and the one who is in you—the Holy Spirit—is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4), so let that encourage us to exercise patience, especially with people close to us.
May the Spirit be with you.