A while back I was doing some bible studies about the Fruits of the Spirit and how to be more Christ-like. In case you don’t know or need a refresher, these are the Fruits of the Holy Spirit that are listed in Galatians: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I read one devotional that suggested focusing on one Fruit at a time for a couple weeks so that you don’t get overwhelmed trying to produce all the Fruit at once. So, I started thinking about which one I struggled with most in order to narrow down a starting point.
After contemplating for a while I decided that I have the most trouble with patience. So my brain went on autopilot and I decided right then that I would be more patient. I prayed for patience and I was sure that I was all set; no more snapping at my sister or parents, forgiving with strangers that make unwise decisions, understanding with my teachers, etc.
That lasted… for about a day.
And then I was back to being even more intolerant than before. That made me go even more into overdrive until I was losing patience with my inability to be patient, which defeated the purpose. Eventually, I gave up on it for a good month or so. Until recently, I was looking through old journals and found where I had gone through all of this and decided to pick up the subject again. But this time, instead of jumping straight to myself, I resolved to ask others about where they thought they struggled. And get this:
Almost every single friend that I asked said they wrestled with patience.
What are the odds, right? At first, I was convinced it was coincidence, but then I started asking myself why this may be. I began to think about the ease that technology has brought to this generation. We have our high-speed internet, our entertainment at the click of a button, our Amazon prime, our friends just a phone call away, and so much more. Then I took into consideration why my quest for patience failed in the first place, and that’s when it hit me:
We pray for patience but we want it now.
That’s a powerfully true statement. A painfully true statement. That is what I had been doing for all those many weeks. So upon this discovery, I realized that 1. My entire mentality needed to change before I would see any real difference, and 2. I can’t do it on my own. In order to really see a difference, I needed to give the whole subject to God and then await the results. I’m still working on this. It’s a slow process for patience (or any of the Fruits) to become habit. But along the way I have discovered something else that most people don’t take into consideration.
When you pray for patience, God will give you something to be patient about.
I don’t know about you, but that truth makes me laugh because it seems so obviously clear but it still blindsided me. Like, of course, if you need to work on patience then you need something to practice on. After hearing that, I have multiplied my everyday reasons to thank God. When I run into a person that’s really pushing me or a situation that has me bubbling over, I can slow my anger and take a moment to thank God for giving me this bitter-sweet moment to practice being like Him through patience.
How bitter-sweet, indeed.