Ah, patience! Growing up, many of you might have heard that “Patience is a virtue.” This is something that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. As I talk to people these days in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of them express how everyday feels like a variation of Ground Hog Day. They tell me how they just can’t wait until we gain some sense of normalcy. I’ll raise my hand and be the first one to admit that I feel exactly the same way. One of the things that we all struggle with in our lives is how to be patient. It’s universal. The fact that we live in a fast-paced, self-reliant society does not help us in our quest to become more patient. You see, in a culture that rewards instant gratification and efficiency, we expect everything to be fast. We love fast food restaurants. When shopping at the commissary, we try to find the shortest line and sometimes, we’ll even skip that line and go through self-checkout if we find less people there. We honk our car horns when someone cuts us off in traffic. I confess my sin here because I get easily frustrated when I am sitting in a traffic jam. So, what do I do? I pray the prayer of a classic impatient person, “Lord, please give me patience, but RIGHT NOW!”
Patience is defined as “the ability to accept the situation you do not like without becoming angry or upset.” We need to ask ourselves. “Can we accept those situations without becoming angry or upset? A biblical writer, King Solomon once famously said, “Patience is better than pride (Ecclesiastes 7:8b).” At first glance, I found this to be odd because I saw no relationship whatsoever between patience and pride. What does patience have to do with pride? But the more I meditate on Solomon’s words of wisdom, the more I realize that I become impatient and/or upset because I falsely believe that I can control of a lot of the situations I encounter. So, I believe that I am in control of my life, whether that is me driving my way out of a traffic jam, urging the line to move faster, or choosing my next assignment. And of course, since I cannot control these outcomes, I become frustrated and impatient. That’s pride, the opposite of humility!
You see, when I am blocked by something or someone, then I suddenly become impatient because I can’t control the situation anymore. That hurts my pride. And I see things only from my perspective. Every day, we all face situations we don’t like that cause delay, difficulty, or annoyance. So, listen… If I am not in control of the situation I find myself in, then who is in control of everything? Well, our is a sovereign God, which means he is in control of everything. His sense of understanding and concept of time goes beyond anything we can imagine. We should be reassured that if God is our sovereign Lord, then nothing happens in our lives by chance or by accident! Be encouraged that God can bring something good out of any situation – even a global pandemic like the one we are currently experiencing (Romans 8:28). The next time you think you are stuck in your current situation(s) and have no idea why this is the case, I ask that you press pause and reflect. It is the Lord who builds your patience and humility through challenging circumstances. As the Apostle Peter says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time (1 Peter 5:6).” Team, let’s practice the virtues of patience and humility as we go through this trying time.