Imagine if everything went wrong in your life. Go ahead, imagine it. Imagine the worst, the unexpected, the annoying, the difficult, the ridiculous, the plain outrageous. It would be horrible, huh?
Sometimes we have times like this. We meet people who are difficult to be with. We get left out. We loose hope. We wear out. We ask why?! And then we have to do it all over again, because, let’s face it, bad things happen a lot. Total damper.
But what does God have to say about it? Scripture tells us that one of the nine fruit of the Spirit is patience, or long-suffering. What does this mean? It means your next worst moment can be endured. That might not sound wonderfully impressive, but let’s take a closer look to be sure!
The ability to wait without complaint is to be patient. To patiently endure a long-drawn-out trouble is long-suffering. Holding back when we would normally lash out at the bad circumstances faced, is forbearance. Mix these three words together, and we can get a pretty good idea of what to expect—that’s right, expect it! If you’ve accepted Christ into your life, then you should expect it. His Spirit living in you will bring upon Patience if you rely on His Spirit rather than your own strength.
Although waiting without complaining is considered patience, we shouldn’t feel like we have to deny the pain that the impact of life’s events and stressors has on us. God provides us the freedom to complain. He actually wants to hear how life impacts us AND He wants us to trust Him even in the hardness. Jesus wasn’t sinning when He said “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” This is NOT an example of Him not being patient. Instead, this is raw engagement with the circumstance God arranged for Him to face. Christ felt it completely, and out of His trust of the Father (which He demonstrated by saying, “not my will, but your will be done”), He was patient, forbearing, enduring the cross.
During the darkest time of our struggles, we all face the question of wondering where God is. Like Jesus expressed, we feel as if we too have been forsaken. We ask if His distance is punishment, discipline or abandonment. In reality, it can feel like any or all of these. But, if God is on our side in harm/loss/pain/frustration then we can trust God is in it with us. So, to the degree in which we can imagine trusting God is not against us in our worst moments, then this security of knowing He is with us will provide us with a greater ability to be patient.
Patience is a fruit the Spirit that God plans to cultivate in you, and is even doing so now! When troubles come, when difficulty persists, when pain arises, when vigor is lost, know that God will give you patience to bear it. Imagine that! Imagine God cultivating in you the ability to endure without complaint, to last during a lasting trouble, to be okay during the most irritating situations. It’s pretty wonderful, huh?
When you’re facing situations where your patience is being tested, talk to God about the hardships you’re struggling with. Consider journaling about or asking Him the following questions:
What has God taught me through this hardship? How much have I grown because of this circumstance?
Where/when/how was God with me during my hardship?
Reflect on a point where you tried to hold on with your own human strength rather than relying on God.
Ask God how you can do better next time.