The Patience of Job

This past Sunday I preached on Job. I shared with you: “Everyone wants the patience of Job; we just don’t want the experience of Job.” However, let me remind you that God used Job’s experience to develop his patience. And patience is a big deal in scripture—

· “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him” (Psalm 37:7).
· “Wait for the Lord and keep His way” (Psalm 37:34).
· “Be completely humble, be patient…” (Ephesians 4:2).
· “Be patient…until the Lord comes” (James 5:7).
· “A man’s understanding gives him patience…” (Proverbs 14:29).
· “The fruit of the Spirit is…patience” (Galatians 5:22).

I could go on but I don’t want to try your patience. I am sure you get the point. According to scripture, patience is a virtue of no small importance. And for good reason! Here’s why: What God is to us is what He expects of us—patience!

So what is patience anyway? Webster defines patience as “The quality of being able to calmly wait and endure.” Someone else defined patience as “Noah waiting for two snails to enter the ark.” Yeah, that’s patience!

So how do we get more of it? Well, take that last verse in the list above and think about it: “The fruit of the Spirit is…patience” (Galatians 5:22). This teaches us that patience is not self-induced, but Spirit produced. That is good because it does not come to us naturally—at least not usually! Patience is not a matter of will power, but a matter of fruit bearing. The only way this fruit is going to grow and become ripe is in the right environment. You cannot grow bananas in Alaska. Neither can you bear the fruit of patience in the wrong environment. We must walk in the Spirit. The only way is to stay in communion with Him and depend on Him to produce this fruit in us.

The place for walking in the Spirit is the real world. It is where we live. It is the laboratory of life. This is where we need to learn patience and is in itself a challenge to our patience. But here is where our experiments with patience will be repeatedly tried and, admittedly, often times failed. Yet, hopefully, over time we will find the right formula, resulting in a good solution to our situation.

I will give you a clue as to what I think it is. It seems to me that at its heart, patience is really a matter of faith. It is saying, “God, I know that you are bigger than this challenging problem—this stressful situation. I am going to remain calm and trust You Lord to use this thing to bring about good in my life. I am going to resist asking, ‘Why did this happen?’ But rather, I’m going to ask, ‘God, what do you want me to learn from this, what do you want to change in me as a result of this, and how do you want me to respond to this?’” Patience really is a matter of learning faith, isn’t it? This is what we must learn in the laboratory of life.

So maybe we should not pray for patience but pray instead for wisdom to practice godly dependence. Who knows? Perhaps something good like patience will come from such a prayer as this. Pray about it…

Devotedly yours,
Pastor Ron

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