“…for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty…” (Philippians 4:11-12)
Throughout the history of the church, patience has always been considered a great virtue by spiritual heavyweights like Augustine, Thomas à Kempis and Francis of Assisi. Why is patience such an important virtue?
For starters, patience is one of the nine fruits of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23)
In our relationship with God, we might call patience “faith-waiting.” In the Bible we are exhorted to “wait on the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14) It takes faith to wait when life situations challenge our walk with God. There are few spiritual disciplines that will focus our faith like those times when all we can do is wait on the Lord. When we are praying for something and receiving no answer, God may be teaching us that there are times when faith waits.
In our relationships with people, patience could be called “love-waiting.” I had no idea how selfish I was until I got married. I had no idea how impatient I was until I became a father and found myself waiting for teenage children to grow up. The Lord wants to grow two dimensions of patience in my life: vertical patience by teaching me to have a faith that waits on Him, and horizontal patience by teaching me that in relationships, love waits.
We all eventually find ourselves facing circumstances that are beyond our control. Imagine Paul chained in that awful prison in Rome. Would he find and maintain the peace of God if his formula for peace was to rattle his chains?
Patience is the supernatural fruit of the Holy Spirit that gives us the grace to accept the things we cannot control.
Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Peace