Donna Hart, PhD, a biblical counselor on staff at BCC, admits to her problem with patience and, through her mishaps, helps us grow in it.I am not a very patient person. I am always in a hurry. The Lord has been teaching me to slow down and be patient, think it through, and look to see things more clearly. In the slowing down, I am learning that patience acts in the face of something that is not right.
Patience Versus Anger
Patience is a curious opposite to anger. When you are patient you agree with the moral evaluation that anger makes:
- “That’s wrong.”
- “What you are doing does not please me.”
- “It offends me.”
- “It hurts people.”
True patience is not aggression and attack mode – it is not about passivity, indifference, and a placid tolerance or neutrality, and it does not accept and affirm everything.
Patience hates what is happening and rolls up its sleeves to redress what is wrong.
Patience makes you slow to anger. A prime characteristic of God is that He is slow to anger, as seen in Exodus 34:6. It is a prime characteristic of love (I Cor. 13:4). God is love, and He intends to make us like Him. When we are slow to anger, we are willing to work with wrong over time. The Lord is not slow about His promise as some count slowness, but patient, (2 Pet. 3:9).
Patience Looks for Solutions
Patience is a fruit of the spirit it acts with spiritual intelligence and is not just a feeling. When you are patient you can see the wrong with more clarity. Patience stops to look, observe, and notice the suffering of others.
Patience hurts for and with the person it does not act the same way anger reacts, it sees and feels the wrong. It motivates your actions and enables you to put up with difficult people and events, not out of indifference, resignation, or cowardice, but because you are driven by a different purpose. You are willing to work slowly to solve things, and you will be willing to live for a long time within seemingly insoluble evils.
Patience hangs in there with people even when they remain wrong and hurtful. It does not mean to just keep on keeping on, to merely grit your teeth, resigned to the inevitable. It is committed to change the world slowly, not to simply endure the world. This forbearing patience is different from being a doormat, passively absorbing abuse, or inviting abuse. A doormat psychologically drowns in the sense of powerlessness, victimhood, cringing fear, self-pity, and self-condemnation.
This forbearing patience is courageous and clear-minded. It exhibits the dignity of choice, it is powerful, but non-retaliatory, even while continuing to experience pain and unfairness. It never loses either the hope of altering or the intention of repairing what is so wrong. It does not reach the end of its rope like impatience. It does not explode like destructive vengeance. It does not give up in exhaustion, disgust, or despair. The willingness to work over the long haul is the first piece of constructively acting as Jesus does. It is a displeasure with wrong doing and sin but patiently merciful with the person as just as Jesus would be.
When have you been displeased with wrong doing and sin but patiently merciful with a person trusting the Lord will use you over time to influence for change?
I look forward to hearing from you.