Practicing Patience

By Dick Koehneke

Have you heard this definition of patience?  It’s the quality you admire in the driver behind you and despise in the driver in front of you!  Here are a few thoughts on the subject of patience.  

  1. Patience is not the same as being passive. Patience is not about inactivity, but about activity that is appropriate and helpful to the situation.  Patience is about putting your resources where they can make a positive difference, instead of squandering time and money and energy on wasted effort.
  1. Patience means that grumbling gives way to gratitude. Why grumble when you can be grateful?   Grumbling is a waste of time and energy.  Grumbling and worry are first cousins.  When worry is in your heart and mind, grumbling is what comes out of your mouth.  Grumbling also implies a profound sense of arrogance, as though your problems are all the result of somebody else.  Take a good, long look in the mirror. That should cure your grumbling and make you grateful for the people in your life who are willing to stick with you. 
  1. Patience means that we stop lamenting what we lack and start using what we have. When we get caught up in complaining about what we don’t have, we neglect what we do have. The reason the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence may be that it’s artificial turf!  When you’re getting bored with your marriage, the best thing to do is to take that energy you are starting to put into something else – or someone else  – and invest it in your spouse.  If you’re fantasizing about some different job, refocus your attention on giving your best effort to the job you have.  If you’re dreaming about being a great athlete or musician some day, keep practicing the fundamentals of your sport or your instrument.  
  1. Patience involves giving God time to work things out. You might be praying for a promotion to a new position.  Good!  God wants to bless not only you but also the person who is presently in that position, so it will take time to work things out for the good of all.  You might be praying for higher income, but maybe you need to learn to live within the limits of what you have right now, so that more money won’t just mean more money out the window.  For some reason, we seem to learn more life lessons in the school of struggle than we do in the school of success.  
  1. When we’re going through tough times, patience involves learning to stop saying “Why me?” That’s a dead-end question.  It leads nowhere good.  Instead of saying “Why me?” let’s pray:

Teach me!  Lord, what do you want me to learn from this experience?” 

Change me!  Father, use this difficult time to make me more like Jesus.” 

Use me!  God, help me to bless someone else in this situation with empathy and compassion, now that I know what it feels like.” 

  1. Patience means we learn to appreciate the word “UNTIL . . .”

“UNTIL” means there is something coming.  It’s not here yet, but it’s on the way.  James 5:7 says, “Be patient UNTIL the Lord’s coming.” Praise God that he is patient with the world, not rushing to judgment, but giving everyone every opportunity to repent and turn to Christ in faith.  The apostle Paul wrote, “Whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death UNTIL he comes.” (1 Corinthians 11:26)  As we celebrate Holy Communion, we look forward to the eternal feast at the heavenly banquet table.    

“UNTIL” is a word of hope and anticipation.  It helps us to practice patience, as we deal with the challenges and opportunities we face each day.