Mom had driven Dad to church at a time when he was moving pretty slowly. She parked the car, opened up the trunk and took out his walker. He slowly made his way down the sidewalk while Mom plowed ahead.
Someone greeted Mom, asking her how she was doing. “I pray and I pray for patience,” she declared. After all, she was Dad’s primary caregiver. At that point, Dad was heard to mutter, “Well, that’s one prayer God hasn’t answered.”
We all laughed at the story. But truth to tell, patience doesn’t come easy to most of us. Certainly not to me. The Bible seems to understand this. In fact, there’s a host of verses that we can all turn to as we do, just like Mom, pray for patience.
1) By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Look at this. Patience is a gift when we open ourselves up to something larger, the Spirit. Sure, you want to work at patience. I do. Better yet, I try to open myself up to God’s purpose. And see what comes!
2) Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him… (Psalm 37:7)
The Psalmist is pretty clear about how to find that precious treasure. Stillness. Doing nothing. I confess I’m a lot like my mom, pushing ahead, proud of myself for getting things done, crossing them off my to-do list.
That’s why I need stillness so much. Every morning I sit on the sofa in silence. My thinking mind still screams out with that to-do list. And I let it go. Waiting for the Lord.
3) Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and late rains. (James 5:7)
The creation offers an abundance of lessons when you think about it.
You plant a seed. You might add a little fertilizer. The rains come or if they don’t come, you do some watering. Maybe some weeding. And see what happens from that little seed—the harvest you are given. A little bit of work on our part, the big work is the Creator’s.
4) Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way… (I Corinthians 13:4-5)
Okay, you’ve probably heard this passage at a million wedding ceremonies (back when it was easier to gather in large groups for such celebrations).
But don’t we need this passage even more now? God imbues us with love. God is love. Jesus is my model for how to practice such love. To love the poor, the dispossessed, those we might disagree with—even our enemies. Every day is a chance to practice this love.
5) But those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles…(Isaiah 40:31)
This passage is what my 93-year-old mom asked the minister to read at her hospital bedside earlier this year. My siblings and I listened and prayed as we gathered around Mom. Little did we know that it would be the last day we spent with her on this earth.
I like to picture her renewed now, mounting up with wings like eagles. Yes, she prayed and prayed for patience. When I think about it, that prayer was indeed answered. In God’s good time.