“And we want each one of you to show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope to the very end, so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”
Of all of the fruits of the Spirit, I have found patience to be one of the most difficult—perhaps the one with which people struggle the most. No doubt, this is a direct reflection of our modern culture. We are accustomed to instant gratification and living with short attention spans, all of which contributes to the crisis of faith I see around me more and more each day. With one click, we can get almost anything our hearts desire. The idea of waiting is hard to digest. It can feel so counter-intuitive: when we are called to wait, we often become anxious, agitated and, in some cases, we panic. And yet, while we might despise it, I believe patience can be one of our greatest teachers.
In the Book of Hebrews, the author seems to have a clear understanding of the dilemma we face when we are called to be patient. The author refers to many of the examples we have in Scripture of those who were called to wait. Not only are we encouraged to know the stories, but we are asked to go one step further: we are invited to imitate their behavior. The individual stories actually provide us with the hope we need when we ourselves are enduring such challenges to our faith.
Hebrews chapter 11 is a great example of this. Known as the “hall of faith,” it gives us examples of biblical characters who had their faith tested. Although it was not easy, they endured and, despite their human inclinations of fear and uncertainty, they trusted and prevailed in faith.
Trusting God is the key to the biblical fruit of patience. The Holy Spirit—by His presence in us and as we ask Him for more—makes this possible. We are called to lay aside our human inclinations, as hard as it is, and trust in the One who leads us. If you’re finding this a struggle, then reach out to someone and invite him/her in. Spiritual companionship can make all the difference when it comes to being patient and waiting on the Lord.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witness, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Hebrews 12:1-2 NRSV