…imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. Heb. 6:12
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you read or hear the word patience? For me, it is often a sense of dread. It is a subject God has been dealing with me on for a long, long time. Some days it seems I’ve got it down. Other days, I feel like I’m back in kindergarten. Many believers I’ve talked to feel the same way. We all know it’s something we should have. It is a fruit of the Spirit, after all! Yet in our fast-food, instant information, immediate gratification culture, most would agree they really don’t. At least not like we know we should.
In Hebrews 6:12, the writer says that it is through faith and patience that we inherit God’s promises. We’ve probably heard more messages on the importance of faith than we could possibly remember. But when is the last time you heard someone teach on the necessity of patience? As much as we may dislike or avoid the topic, God’s Word is full of examples. Almost every saint mentioned had to go through a prolonged time of waiting for God to fulfill His promises. Abraham and Sarah waited about twenty-five years for their promised son, Isaac. Joseph waited many years for the fulfillment of his prophetic dreams. David, anointed as king of Israel at a young age, waited years before receiving his crown. These and others are recorded for our benefit, to teach us that God is never in a hurry to fulfill His promises – yet He is always faithful.
He is endlessly patient and committed to cultivating His image in each of His children. When I struggle to be patient, I try to remember how long He has waited to fulfill His own desires. He has longed since eternity past for a family, and a bride that is wholehearted and mature in love. We can’t even comprehend how long that is! So how do we grow in patience? James wrote, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (1:2-4) Perseverance is another word for patience, or patient endurance. If you’ve ever prayed for patience and it suddenly seems like all hell breaks loose around you, this is why!
Paul wrote in Romans 5:3-4, “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Patience develops when we respond properly to our trials and sufferings. It produces mature character in us. On the other hand, impatience is really a lack of faith; it is unbelief. Impatience says that God cannot be trusted to follow through on His promises. It doubts His faithfulness and questions His integrity. In essence, it is calling God a liar… Ouch. This is why it requires both faith and patience to inherit His promises; the two cannot be separated.
Trials and tribulations are never fun or easy, but if we want to grow in patience we must see them as opportunities instead of problems. By Gods’ grace, we can rejoice and respond with trust that He is working everything together for good in our lives, to bring us to maturity in the image of His Son. Though the fiery furnace is painful, He promises to be with us in it. He walks beside us through the dark valleys and will one day wipe away every tear when pain is removed forever.
How is God working to produce patience in you?