Words Matter: Patience

I would like to think I’m a very patient person.  I would LOVE to think that.  But I know I’m not.  At least not consistently so.

In some ways, I can be very patient.  I’ve been waiting since 1967 for the Leafs to win a Stanley Cup.  That’s patience.  I waited fifty-some years to get my motorcycle license.  Right now I’m waiting for my coffee (I use a French Press - the longest four minutes of the day are the ones between adding the water and depressing the filter screen).  Yes, I’m (sometimes) a patient person.

In truth, I’m probably more impatient than I am patient.  Like waiting for a certain pandemic to end.  Or when Sharon and I were dating in the days before the interwebby thing, impatiently waiting for her letters to arrive via pterodactyl.  Yes, it was that long ago.  I have zero patience for drivers who text and drive - including at lights that used to be red and are now green.  The list is long.

When I pause to think about it, I realize the common denominator in all this is . . . ME.  Embarrassingly, my impatience is usually the byproduct of my selfishness (is that coffee ready yet?).  There may be some justifiable righteousness when I’m impatient with drivers who text, but any moral indignation at their foolishness is easily offset by my eagerness to get moving because the light is now green.  Get out of MY way!

Is it any wonder that patience is listed by Paul as a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-26)?  My apparent patience is often self-serving or maybe a reluctant resignation to a reality over which I have no control (like the Leafs).  Ah, to be a patient person.  Willing, happy, and fulfilled in the role of waiting.  That isn’t me, at least not in my natural state of being.

Words Matter:  Patience.

Authentic patience - the kind that has pure motives and gentle expression - is a work of God in us.  Thankfully, God’s common grace means all of us have some baseline of patience.  But that rich reservoir of willing to wait for God - that is something special.  This is more than gritting the teeth and holding on for dear life (although it sometimes includes that).  

The patience of Galatians 5 is an expression of faith.  It may not be devoid of other emotions.  While we are being patient, we may also feel different kinds of angst, sorrow, or stress.  This kind of patience does touch us emotionally - it has to because God created us as emotive beings.  But it may not make us always feel happy and joyful.  Sorrow is a part of life.  The valley of the shadow of death is a real place.

Patience doesn’t make that go away.  It strengthens our resolve to walk along the valley floor.  Patience nurtures courage because we have confidence in the Creator God who holds all things in the palm of His hands (Psa. 91).  Patience is nurtured through experience.  As we see God’s faithfulness now and in the past, our faith matures in preparation for what the future - known only by God - may hold.

And that, I think, is the bottom line.  The work of the Spirit of God to produce patience within us also helps us understand the faithfulness of God.  If I believe God is God - the only true, living God and there is no other - then there is reason to be patient.  God is working.  Always.  And almost always in hidden ways.

My coffee is ready.  In fact, my cup needs a refill.  The Leafs still haven’t won the Cup (yet).  Idiot texters are still on the road.

And God is on His throne.  When I feel impatient, I will try to remember His patience with me and His faithfulness to all He has created.
Graham Bulmer
Lead Pastor
Graham and Sharon Bulmer bring many years of pastoral, teaching, leadership development and administrative experience to the Q50 Community Church plant. They served in Latin America as missionaries for almost 15 years, and have pastored here in Canada.