Feel you are short on patience lately? You probably aren’t imagining it. We get tested and not just by others or by Satan… but by God too. The Bible has several references to being refined. All the purposes are for our good and for God’s glory.
Have you ever prayed for patience? Many people say to NEVER do this because- when we pray for patience God gives us circumstances to practice patience…which usually means frustrating circumstances. Who wants this?
We do. We want to feel patience in the midst of frustration. Patience is a muscle. It is a character muscle. It is part of who we are. We all have patience to various degrees. We all want more of it when life gets tough.
When we lift a heavy box, we wish we had bigger muscles. When we are in a mess of an emotional storm–we wish we had more patience. The way to have both is to work these muscles against resistance.
It is easy to be spiritual in a bubble. But NO ONE lives in a bubble. Even monks and nuns live with other people and people always will do something to rub us wrong. It is inevitable.
For those of us outside of the cloisters, we run into many opportunities a day to practice patience. Our families know our buttons and they push them frequently. Also being very familiar with others brings us many moments to witness annoying behaviors—which is another call for patience. Some of us work in toxic environments with politics, gossip, and backbiting (calling for patience). Then, there are goals that we have worked for but have not attained yet perhaps due to setbacks. Daily we are reminded of what still lays out of reach.
If we are willing to practice grace and patience and compassion, life will be smoother. Not at first. But it WILL happen.
What can we do?
When people upset us, we can remember that “this person”, too, just like us, was made in the image of God. We can also remind ourselves that God is looking at “this person” with loving eyes and care and concern. God’s will is for the best of everyone. He disapproves of ugly but he hopes for the change to become more like Christ. And just like God holds out hope for “this person” we too can hold out that hope for them. We can pray quietly, sincerely, that the Holy Spirit enters the situation, whatever it is, and transforms us both.
When goals have not been materialized, instead of being envious of others or becoming depressed, we can practice patience. We can remind ourselves that even “overnight wonders” worked many years, unseen by the public, before the fruition of their dreams. We can use our unrealized goals and desires as motivation to pick ourselves up and keep at it. We can renew a commitment to daily put in effort towards that which we want. We can break the goal down into mini steps and be proud of ourselves for each tiny milestone we make. The happier we are with our effort, the more we will put back into the effort to get our desire. But we must stay calm and appreciate the journey.
And always we need to remember that life here is not our final destination. Our eternal goal is to be with Jesus. Life will be glorious. These troubles and frustrations will cease. Joy will be ours.
When we keep this in mind, we will do what it takes to keep our faith strong. With strong faith, we can choose to mold ourselves into the image of Christ with the power and help of the Holy Spirit. Jesus was patient. We can be too. It just takes practice and reframing our perspectives.
Proverbs 17:3 ESV
The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold,
and the Lord tests hearts.
Isaiah 48:10 ESV
Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;
I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.
1 Peter 1:6-7 TLB
So be truly glad! There is wonderful joy ahead, even though the going is rough for a while down here. These trials are only to test your faith, to see whether or not it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests gold and purifies it—and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold; so if your faith remains strong after being tried in the test tube of fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day of his return.
Until Next Time~