3 Simple Ways to "Let Patience Have Its Perfect Work"
Patience may not be our finest virtue. Yet most of us want it... just right now. What do you do when patience is lacking?
Patience in My Garden
When our carefully-designed gardens in the back yard were torn up while we were installing a sprinkler, the picture looked devastating. How long would it take to re-create those beautiful spaces? We had finally planted the kind of gardens I had always wanted. I wasn't feeling very patient just then.
Patience When Life Happens
You may not be a gardener, but I bet you know what I'm talking about. At a point when you thought everything was finally manageable, life happened. And the damage left behind looked something like the picture on the left side of the collage below. Problems--known as "challenges" (or even "friends," as the Philips translation calls them (James 1:4))--swoop in leaving an unpleasant trail. And usually, patience gets sort of trapped somewhere in the middle, or out of sight completely.
In the Living Bible, James says, "So let it grow, and don't try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete."
Patience for Your God-given Vision
Maybe you had a legitimate God-given vision of success, but then all hell seemed to break loose to destroy it. In Oswald Chambers' classic devotional My Utmost for His Highest he says, "God gives us a vision, and then He takes us down to the valley to batter us into the shape of that vision. It is in the valley that so many of us give up and faint. Every God-given vision will become real if we will only have patience."¹
Patience with Our Flaws
Sometimes our character has deep flaws we can't even see. But God can. And He won't ignore them. Gently, firmly, He prods us, helping us see our blindness. If we listen and observe, we'll get it... this time. Or not. But God doesn't give up. He's patient, even when we're not. In the end, it's easier if we listen and respond well the first time. Because this is a process God uses all of our lives.
What's the Solution?
So what's the solution? What do you do when patience is lacking?
Two earlier verses of that same passage in James say this: "Dear brothers, is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy, for when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow" (James 1:2-3, TLB). You may be more familiar with the phrase from the King James translation: "Let patience have its perfect work," (v. 4). Be patient, in other words.
Here are three simple things you can do to "let patience have its perfect work":
1. Don't get in a hurry. God doesn't
2. Ask God to teach you what He wants you to know through everything you're experiencing (It's a lot better than rebelling!)
3. Give thanks that God is using the circumstances to make you more like Him. That is His goal, you know
Think about the places and ways God uses this familiar method of teaching us patience and letting it have its perfect work:
1. Patience in our prayer life
Some names on my prayer list are growing yellow with age. Twenty-plus years is a long time to pray for someone. But I'm still praying. And strangely, my prayer life is growing, just trusting God’s track record of faithfulness and knowing He’s hearing their names often. But then, He never forgets a name—or a need.
2. Patience in our marriage or relationships
Having experienced some years of dysfunction in our marriage, I know by experience what it means to “hit the wall.” But I also know what’s on the other side of that wall. Patience has had and is having its perfect work in our relationship. Patience kept us going. Correction. God kept us going—and growing—when we refused to sit still and give up.
3. Patience in deciphering world events
Naysayers can't see anything positive in our world today—or in the lives of others. Evil runs rampant; morals are corrupt; nothing good lasts. Patience sees the predictions and the destruction playing out their inevitable end, but chooses to be part of the solution to make the world better. Jesus brought a lasting solution. And He called us to follow in His footsteps, sharing His message with others.
It only took my garden a couple of years to fully recover. And the sprinkler was definitely worth the effort. You know what else I'm still learning? It always pays to trust God's timetable. His calendar is best and produces the most lasting results. Always.
¹Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (c) 1992 by Oswald Chambers Publications Association, Ltd., Discovery House Edition, Edited by James Reimann.
For more from Rebecca Barlow Jordan, please visit www.rebeccabarlowjordan.com
Publication date: April 23, 2015