Patience

Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish. ~John Quincy Adams

broken 2 Do you ever get kicked in the pants by your own silliness?

I rolled up to the keyboard on Super Bowl Sunday. It was a few hours until kickoff—plenty of time to work on an article about “patience.”

This should be easy. A couple of pertinent quotes, a witty line or two about my own lack of patience, and some observations about occasions when patience has paid off—pretty straightforward stuff.

I leaned back to ponder a clever opening line and heard a sickening crack. The tube that supports the left side of my wheelchair back snapped in half.

DISASTER

My day was ruined.

I couldn’t sit safely or comfortably in my broken chair. Movement was limited to slowly “limping” around the house, leaning carefully to one side to avoid falling. No repair shops open on Sunday, so I was effectively immobilized for the rest of the day.

A normal guy might see opportunity within this challenge.  I’d spend the afternoon of the Super Bowl confined to the La-Z-Boy, TV remote in hand, unable to retrieve my own snacks. My wife would happily serve me while I sat with feet up, napping and watching football.

Most guys would define such circumstances as God smiling upon them.

But I work hard to maintain the illusion of independence. I hate asking for help, and this stupid broken chunk or metal made me feel even more helpless than usual.

Why did this have to happen on a Sunday? I grumbled about a Monday morning wasted on repairs and a search for some special part that’s probably not in stock. An appointment had to be re-scheduled. Plans were destroyed, an entire week thrown into disarray.

And when would I find time to write that article—the one about “patience”?

IRONY

You see the irony, right? One minute I prepared to pontificate about patience, then suddenly I wallowed in frustration and anger over a relatively minor setback.

We’re a culture of convenience. We want what we want, and our desires become expectations and then entitlements. We want it all, and we want it now. The slightest deviation from our plans and preferences becomes a tragedy, proof of life’s inherent conspiracy against us. Great patience is required simply to wait for a momentary traffic delay.

A BIGGER VIEW

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. [Galatians 5: 22-26]

Scripture refers to patience in a different light. Galatians 5:22 lists patience as a fruit of the Spirit. In the KJV, this word is longsuffering and means “bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint.” Scriptural patience connotes sticking with a difficult task when you’d rather quit, maintaining an attitude of serenity and hope.

Patience isn’t simply passively tolerating adversity—that’s just laziness. Patience allows me to continue on the correct path, to remain true to my core values, when things aren’t going exactly as I wish. For me, patience requires two closely-related attitudes.

Patience requires faith, a constant awareness that I believe in something greater than current circumstance. It’s not something I generate for myself—patience is a gift that comes when I walk in step with the Spirit.

Patience requires hope, which I define as a sense of expectation rooted in faith. Hope isn’t a wish; it’s the certainty that comes from trusting God’s perfect faithfulness. I attain that attitude of hope only by remembering that I’m trying to live God’s way, not mine.

Ecclesiastes 3 assures us: There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. [Ecclesiastes 3:1] The rest of the passage lists some of the joys and sorrows—birth and death, mourning and dancing—that have their appointed time and place.

This beautiful passage is an appeal for patience and perseverance in the face of adversity.

So I guess that means there’s a time for my wheelchair to function properly and, like anything mechanical, a time for it to break.

And, for me, a time to become frustrated, and a time to ask forgiveness and seek the hope rooted in faith that allows me to endure the frustration and begin again.

Do you ever lose patience when things don’t happen as you planned? What’s your secret for regaining perspective and facing adversity in hope?

The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride. [Ecclesiastes 7:8]

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Dixon
Copyright 2010 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.
Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:
Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance
. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

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