The gift of patience

I was annoyed today by my computer which swallowed a blank disk and refused to spit it out again.

As I sat there, I remembered a comment I read somewhere about Jonathan Edwards, the great American theologian and preacher, who decided one day to stop getting upset with inanimate objects – things without life or feeling.  After all, there’s not much they can do to change.

That got me thinking about patience – or the lack of it.

My wife reminds me periodically of my impatience when I’m irritated by slow traffic.  But I assure myself that I’m generally not impatient with people.

Is it possible to become more patient?  If so, how do I go about it?

I suppose I could tell myself there’s not much sense in pumping up my blood pressure over something that’s likely to be gone in a few minutes or a day or two.

But suppose I  have to deal with a problem that will last for years – perhaps the rest of my days.  How do I become patient in those circumstances?

The Bible gives me a few clues.

In Galatians 5:22, Paul lists patience as one of the fruit of the Spirit.  Just before that, Paul says that I must “live by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature”.

In effect, he is telling me that I must give up control of my life to the Holy Spirit and patience will be one of the results.

I am also told to fix my eyes on Jesus and run the race of life with perseverance (Hebrews 12:1-2).  This suggests to me that I must take the long view of life.  What am I here for?  I am here to be made into the image of Christ and that includes coping patiently with troubles and irritations.

Paul also says in Philippians 4:4-6 I should always rejoice in the Lord.  In other words, I should take a step back and remember that I belong to Jesus and will always be with him.  Instead of getting into a snit, I can rejoice in God’s faithful and never-ending love for me.

This suggests I need a mind change.  When I sense my blood pressure rising, I need to take a momentary time out and recognize that, after all, my troubles are trivial in the light of eternity.

Something for me to think about.


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