Patience is being willing to wait until the right time. Patience is not the waiting itself, but it is the heart’s willingness to wait, even when it is difficult. Also, patience doesn’t mean waiting forever, but it does mean waiting until the right time. God was patient with the Amorites, but eventually their sins “reached its full measure” and time was up.
Do you demand patience now? Get better sleep and bring a book. Advice like that is helpful, but it merely manages the problem without getting at the heart. Instead, here are a few suggestions that can help the heart of the problem.
1. Don’t break the first commandment.
“And God spoke all these words: ‘I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.” (Ex. 20:1-3) The first commandment tells us that the Lord is God and no one else is. That includes you. If you want to learn patience, start by keeping the first commandment. In other words, remember that you are not God.
We are impatience because we want our wills to become instant reality. “Let there be pizza. And then there was pizza.” We want to speak and make it so. God can pull that off, we can’t. We also forget that the universe doesn’t revolve us. There are other people who exist and sometimes they get ahead of us in line. This is always more irritating if you think you are the most important person in the world. God is patient, but is omnipotent and He gets to set the timetables. Embrace frustrations as reminders that you and I are not God.
2. Have confidence in God and His plan.
Let me ask you this: Why is God able to be patient? Part of the answer is that God has confidence in Himself and His plan. Because of God’s wisdom, omniscience and omnipotence God knows that His waiting it worth it. He is able to look ahead to what He considers to be the greater good. We can grow in patience in the same way. I don’t mean that we should have confidence in ourselves and our plan. We’re unworthy of that. Instead, we also need to have confidence in God and His plan. We need to trust that God’s ways are best. He knows what He is talking about and the reward is worth the wait.
Moses in an example of this kind of trust. Hebrews 11:24-26 states, “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.”
Sex is an example of this. God is not against sex, but He instructs us to wait for this until marriage. Do you trust that God’s plan is best? Sex is meant to cement two people together is a life-long relationship. Sex outside of marriage comes with guilt, dysfunction, potential disease and all sorts of problems. Waiting for marriage let’s sex be what it was meant to be.
In 1972 Walter Mischel conducted an experiment regarding delayed gratification. Children were given a marshmallow and told that they could eat it immediately, or they wait until the instructor came back in the room and then they could have two marshmallows. Settling for sex before marriage is like grabbing one small dirty marshmallow instead of waiting for the bag of marshmallows that God offers.
3. Remember that patience is a part of love.
When Paul describes love in 1 Corinthians 13, the first thing he states is that love is patient. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” (1 Cor. 13:4) Patience is not merely a matter of our personal tranquility; it is about our relationships. To love others, we must learn to be patient. To please God with a grateful life we must learn patience. We are called to be “completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Eph. 4:2)
We should express patience to others because God first expressed greater patience to us. “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:7-9) Without God’s patience all of us would have perished. Patience was part of God’s love for us.