Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. —James 1:2-4, NIV
A lot of things have been said about God: Some of which are actually good. One thing that can’t be said however is that God doesn’t have a sense of humor. If you want to test that theory, just try praying for patience sometime.
This is one area where the old adage rings true: “God doesn’t grant you patience. He grants you the opportunities to show patience.”
Except there’s only one problem with that: I don’t want opportunities to show patience.
I want PATIENCE. And I want it NOW!
But that’s not the way it works in the life of spiritual growth is it? What good would it do for God to just give us patience like that? What would we have learned?
No, no, my friend; look at it through the omniscient lens of our Creator; the gift is not in the acquiring, but in the process to acquiring; as Paul writes in Colossians, “being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience.” I can just picture my Heavenly Father looking down on me as I pray for patience at the start of another workday, shaking his head in a resigned melancholy and saying, “Ooooooookay … ”
I know. I’ve done it with my own son: Usually when it involves a ramp of cushions, a flight of stairs and a laundry basket.
In other words, “This is probably going to end badly.”
When our children are poised at the top of the stairs, all smiling confidence and self-assurance saying, “Watch me! Watch me!” who are we as parents to say “no?” We could. In fact, we probably should, in most cases. But more often than not, these are what we like to refer to as “learning opportunities,” or “teachable moments.”
So, we bite our lip, watch the carnage unfold, apply the antiseptic and band-aids, and say things like, “It’s okay … it’s okay.” All the while mentally whispering to ourselves, “I knew it … I knew it.” After all, in the end it’s not what our kids want, it’s what we know is best for them that matters; like life-lessons on gravity and hard surfaces. Why should our Father be any different with us? It’s that omniscient thing again—like He knows everything. Like how we don’t need patience, we need to learn patience.
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:15-17, NIV)