Dare to be patient – part 1
- Proverbs 15:18 “A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel.” (NIV)
The post-modern society seem to be driven by impatience, everything around us has to be fast. We live fast lives, drive fast cars, eat fast foods, and modern medicine and technology also promises fast solutions to life’s challenges. All of this can somehow give us an impression that all of life is fast. In spite of the rapid development in technology there are some things that have remained at their own pace. Babies still take time to be able to eat solids, to learn to stand, to talk and to walk. It also takes time for seeds to germinate, plants to grow, and crops to be harvested. Even if you continue to water a plant day and night it will not change the pace at which the plant grows. Nature tells us that it takes time to do worthwhile things. The same applies to human relations, it still take time to build true friendship, to get close to each other, to grow in love and to develop true intimacy.
Someone describes patience as the ability to wait for the fruition of our goals. The society that we live in preaches the gospel of instant gratification. They say “Don’t wait; act now! Get it now! Don’t wait until you can afford it; buy it now without money! Just use the plastic card!” Then they say “Tata ma-Chance, tata ma-Millions!” Meaning there is no need to prepare for your future by working hard for many years you can strike it rich now by winning the lotto (lottery)!” Lack of patience is closely related to lack of discipline. Patience is something that our society desperately needs. Road accidents, road rage, high dropouts at schools, teenage pregnancies are just but a few examples of lack of patience. Patience is the armour that we need to fight the battle called life, without it we are weak and dangerously exposed. It is said that Og Mandino (1923 ~ 1996) once said “Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet. With patience you can bear up under any adversity and survive any defeat. With patience you can control your destiny and have what you will… Patience is power. Employ it to stiffen your spirit, sweeten your temper, stifle your anger, bury your envy, subdue your pride, bridle your tongue, restrain your hands, and deliver you whole, in due time, to the life you deserve.”
The challenge of impatience
As a people we have developed a vocabulary to support our lack of patience. People often talk about ‘losing patience’ or not being able to ‘find the patience’ to deal with a situation. But the fact of the matter is that patience cannot be lost or found. As someone puts it patience is not a commodity. It is a decision. It is a decision to wait. It is a decision to hold on in spite of the challenges and obstacles that might on the way. Lack of patience is not an excuse. Yet, some people will say, “I can’t help it. I’m just impatient. That’s just the way I am!” However, when someone says “That’s just the way I am!” he/she really means that “That’s the way I choose to be.” Someone once said impatience is a sign of immaturity, and to overcome it we need to start thinking of others and accept responsibility for our personal actions.
It is not easy to be patient
It is not easy to be patient because in many cases you might not be sure of how long you have to wait for change. And sometimes you might not even know if there will ever be a change at all. But patience is not only about enduring a long wait; in some cases it has to do enduring abuses, incitement, and exploitation without resentment or bitterness. Patience is an act of faith. It is a belief that whilst we wait there is a God who is working and doing something about the challenge. Patience is also an expression of compassion. When we are compassionate we tolerate the faults of others. The Bible teaches us that those that are strong are able to bear the burdens of the weak (Rom 15:1). The strong should not act like those who are weak, but instead they must be patient and have sympathy for those who are weak.
To be continued… Next time we’ll explore the role of patience in marriage.