When patience comes, it’s really not through any of my own doing.
Posted in , Jul 27, 2016
Praying for patience? Don’t we all?
A couple of years back, when my dad was struggling through various health issues, my mom was his primary caregiver. One Sunday morning they’d driven to church and were getting out of the car to walk the last few steps, Mom barreling ahead with her usual energy, Dad coming behind slower with his walker.
Someone asked how they were doing. Mom said, “I just pray and pray for patience.” Dad, quick-witted as always, even if he wasn’t moving very fast, was heard to mutter, “Well, that’s a prayer God hasn’t answered.”
Quite frankly, I think she was a phenomenally patient caregiver. But patience is a hard one, a virtue that doesn’t come easy to most of us, certainly not me. When I mentally go through Paul’s fruit of the Spirit list, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control,” I often pause at patience.
Is it really something we should always have? I noticed recently reading the Gospel of Mark that Jesus wasn’t always patient. As He said to His disciples when they couldn’t cast a demon out of a possessed young man, “You faithless generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I put up with you?” (Mark 9:19)
How patient was that?
On the other hand, I think of a friend who is a therapist, surely one of the most demanding jobs in the universe. “I have endless patience with people’s suffering,” he says. “I get impatient, though, with people’s evasiveness and their self-deception or their arrogance especially.”
Maybe there are things we are meant to be impatient with in our prayers: our yearning for justice, for peace, for an end to suffering, for a relief from our own pains.
Love, which is the greatest answer to any prayer, is indeed patient. Paul says so right at the beginning of his famous passage in 1 Corinthians: “Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant, it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage…”
I find that when patience comes, it’s really not through any of my own doing. It is simply God’s grace at work. Perhaps we’re most patient when we least realize it.
Like my mom, I pray and pray for patience. And when it comes, it’s a gift.