Many of you may remember the Tom Petty song, The Waiting is the Hardest Part. He may have been right. I find waiting to be one of the more challenging things in life. How about you? Do you struggle with waiting well?
In our society today, we are conditioned to want and get everything fast. Examples include food, money, information, groceries, and items we order from Amazon Prime. We want instant gratification. However, we all must deal with other people or circumstances that try our patience – an ungrateful child, slow service in a retail store, a long line, a traffic jam, a spouse taking us for granted, coworkers who don’t pull their weight, the pandemic to end. The list could go on and on.
The Apostle Paul lists patience as part of the fruit of the spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23) There is really no dispute that we are supposed to be patient.
So, what is patience? Here are a couple of definitions:
- The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.
- To suffer without complaining or becoming annoyed.
By nature, I don’t do patience well. I want what I want, and I want it now! I get it honest because my dad has about the lowest patience threshold that I have seen. Although I’m a lot better than him, patience isn’t one of my virtues. But God has a sense of humor. He gave me my oldest daughter. As an example, we can be scheduled to be somewhere at five o’clock, and at four forty-five, she is getting in the shower. He also gave me my husband, Tracy, who goes at one pace, which is slow – except when he is driving. We joke that he is on “Tracy time.” Going to the grocery store with him is interesting. Recently, I had finished my shopping and was ready to check out, and I found him on one of the first aisles reading the label on a water bottle.
I feel sure that you, like me, have prayed and prayed about issues you are facing, and nothing seems to happen. You just wait. It’s easy to feel like your bank of patience is depleting. That is when I often try to swoop in and take care of the situation instead of trusting God to do so in His timing. And it usually doesn’t end well.
If you need to work on your patience, here are three strategies to help you to wait well.
#1 Recognize that trials produce patience
The more trials we face, the more opportunities we get to cultivate patience. How’s that for looking on the bright side?
#2 Be thankful
The unwelcome intrusions of waiting in our lives are powerful opportunities to welcome God into every moment, be thankful for Him, and keep our hearts renewed in Him.
#3 Trust God
It isn’t in our abilities to know the time or way God will work things out. The verse below reminds us that God is in control, and we will never understand everything while we are on this earth. Our role is to trust Him and wait with hope as He brings to completion the good work that He has begun in each of our lives.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men, yet they cannot fathom the work that God has done from beginning to end (Ecclesiastes 3:11).”
Here are a few questions to reflect on in the quest to cultivate more patience:
- Are you currently in a period of waiting? If so, what are you waiting for?
- Can you think of examples where trials in your life helped you to develop patience?
- What else has helped you grow in your ability to cultivate patience?
- What will you do to become better at waiting well?