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But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. – Galatians 5:22-24
they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40:31
I’m not very good at waiting. Just ask my wife. If we’re behind a slow car on the highway, I’ll invoke my “It is a race and I do own the road” rule. It doesn’t work. But I can’t help it. I like Lee Iacocca’s motto: Lead, follow, or get out of the way. Don’t make me wait. I’m just not good at it.
On the one hand, I get things done. I don’t tend to procrastinate. But on the other hand, there’s no doubt that I preempt others from their opportunity to do good. I’m way ahead of them. Done. But it’s possible that others would actually do a better job of it than I would. Hm… I wonder whether I need a strong dose of the Holy Spirit and the benefits of his presence in my life, and… patience. Certainly I do.
Patience is an outgrowth of the Holy Spirit’s work to convince me that God is perfectly capable of accomplishing his good will in his time, and that his timing is not subject to the whims of our desires and sensibilities. God has a bigger picture in mind than we do. Besides that, there are realities at play in the spiritual realm that do not conform to our sense of urgency. Check out Daniel 10 for an interesting insight into the realities of time and the spiritual realm when it comes to answered prayers, and patience.
We tend to overestimate what we can do in the short term and underestimate what God can do through us in the long term. Only if we’re willing to wait on him and his timing will we discover how true this is. The close cousin of waiting is hoping. Hope isn’t merely a yearning of the heart. Hope is a fervent anticipation of God’s promises coming true in our lives. It is bolstered by trust in God’s goodness, grace, and faithfulness.
Remembering God’s goodness, faithfulness, and love, his good will and power over sin, death and the devil, and having a view that sees beyond the immediate next moments are the building blocks of patience. And this is the realm of the Holy Spirit’s work. The Holy Spirit helps us become more aware of these things as he focuses our attention on Jesus. Our preoccupation with the things of this world will lead us to works of impatience, frustration, and anxiety.
My mind is definitely not focused on the spiritual realm and the promises of God when I’m frustrated behind the slow driver. But a focus on God’s promises, Jesus’ death and resurrection, coupled with a humble spirit will ground me in an attitude of patience that gives testimony to the Holy Spirit’s work in me.