Five Ways to be Patient

Last week we looked at five reasons we can be patient and wait upon the Lord even in hard times. You can read those reasons here.

This week I want to suggest five practical ways we can be patient. Trusting God’s sovereign power and love is always the source of our patience, but sometimes having some concrete steps to express this can help as well.

1. Stop and pray when you feel the anxiety, anger or impatience building

It’s easy to let our frustrations, disappointments and relentless bad news take control of our thinking and weigh us down. Sometimes we think the Christian thing is to push through and pretend we’re ok. It’s worth acknowledging how hard things are, recognising when we feel overwhelmed by impatience, and stopping in that moment to bring it to God in prayer. Job’s patience was seen not in some brave denial of reality, but in painful grief that did not give up trusting God’s goodness. 

2. Keep things in perspective 

Patience also gets easier when we put things into perspective, and understand how brief our struggles here on earth are compared to eternity. Just as difficult times wth young children can seem to drag on forever, but the next thing you know they are grown up, so the pain of this life will fade quickly in God’s plan to transform us. In particular it can become easier to wait if we turn our minds to being thankful to God, looking for God’s grace in even small things rather than focusing on what we feel we don’t have. The darker things get, the brighter God’s mercy and grace shines in that darkness, so be thankful!

3. Be productive

One way to practice patience is to apply our hands to getting things done. Time goes quicker when we have a sense of achievement, so trying to be fruitful with the time God gives us is a great way to express our trust in him. This might mean getting through those Christian books we’ve had sitting on the shelves for a while, sorting out the garage, perfecting a recipe, or writing letters to friends and family.

4. Be concerned for others

It’s easy to be consumed with our own problems and frustrations. Considering other people’s needs and mulling over how we can be of service to them can shift our feelings of impatience. This is a practical way for us to apply the first three points – to empathise and pray for others, to remember we’re not alone in having to endure and persevere, and to be a fruitful blessing to our brothers and sisters.

5. Get the rest you need

It’s amazing how being locked in one place can be so exhausting, and tiredness can lead to irritability and being short-fused. God made us for rest, so make sure you express faith in God by getting the sleep you need and trusting him to run the universe without you, even briefly. But rest also means figuring out the things that recharge and reenergise you and making the effort to incorporate these joyful things in your day and week.  

And finally a bonus point, partly to test your patience, and partly because I couldn’t figure out how to squeeze it all in to five…

6. Guard the gates of your mind

By this I mean being careful and thoughtful about what we watch with our eyes and hear with our ears. Very often our sense of discontentment and impatience is driven by the world’s lies about life and happiness that are everywhere on TV, social media and in songs. Our discontentment and anxiety can increase the more we consume the world’s messaging. 

So rather than having our day shaped by the latest announcement from Gladys, we can instead find patience and joy when we follow Paul’s urging “whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—dwell on these things” (Phil. 4.8).


Five Reasons to be Patient

How are you coping with lockdown? I know some people are enjoying things slowing down, with more time at home. But many others are stressed either by the emptiness of their days, or by the intensity of a home full of non-stop work, school, and family commitments, where a day is like a thousand years… Added to all this is the natural fear and anxiety of facing a dangerous disease and wondering how long this will all last. 

So how can we be patient and endure in the meantime? Let me suggest five truths that will help us wait patiently upon the Lord.

1. The outcome is guaranteed and truly glorious 

We may not know when lockdown will end, or the pandemic will pass, but we know ultimately there is in store for us a crown of joy, righteousness and everlasting peace. What we patiently wait for is guaranteed glory.

2. What is happening now is light and momentary in comparison 

Paul says his many sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory to come, and in fact are light and fleeting compared to the eternal glory of God in store for us (2 Cor. 4.17. We can endure because it will be truly worth it. 

3. What is happening now is achieving our glory 

Even more, God assures us that what we go through now is in fact achieving his glorious purposes in us. God uses present circumstances to refine his people, and is working in all things for our good, transforming us into the likeness of his son (Rom. 8.28-30)

4. Our patience and endurance honours God and exalts Jesus

According to 1 Peter 2.21, we have been called to endure hardship and to follow Christ’s example. When we put up with difficulty and are patient, this demonstrates God’s holiness and honours him as greater than our present reality. Patience is a clear expression of faith.

5. God comforts and strengthens us in our time of need

Sometimes we face challenges that seem insurmountable. The Bible’s assurance is ‘Be still, and know that I am God’ (Psa. 46.10). When we are weighed down with weariness, Jesus urges us to come to him and he promises us rest (Matt. 11.28). And in those times when we have no strength to go on, God reminds us that he never becomes faint or weary, and those who trust in the Lord are given strength to soar on eagles’ wings and run and never grow faint (Isa. 40.28-31). We can endure and wait patiently, because of God’s power in us. 

So please be assured of our ongoing prayers that God would sustain and strengthen and comfort you all at this time. 

Next week we will look at Five Ways to be Patient.