When Patience Isn’t Your Virtue

It was the store’s employee who directed me to the express lane. He would’ve made a different choice had he known how many products were packed into my small basket. But the dude behind me saw full well. As the clerk rang up item after item, the man at the end of the line with only three items in hand, started to whistle Christmas jingles. An odd thing to do eight days before Easter.

His impatience became an irritation. In an effort to defuse the situation, I smiled and asked, “Are you thinking you’re going to have to wait until Christmas before I’m checked out?”

He laughed and the ice broke. “Nope,” he said. “But it may be Easter.”  

I wonder if there are those whistling through their teeth and losing patience with you? Or maybe someone has her stiletto heels standing on your last nerve? Although I’m clearly a work in progress, here are three ways for the impatient to grow in patience.

  1. Ponder on how patient God is with you. He is “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6). His patience is not measured on how well we may or may not be doing at the moment. It’s based on him. It’s who he is! Liz Curtis Higgs writes, “God doesn’t just show us patience. He is Patience. It’s how he defines himself.”
  2. Pray for patience. When you’ve run out of patience with your family, co-workers, or even yourself, go to Jesus. In him you will be “strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience” (Colossians 1:11). He is able to infuse us with patience-power. This is a prayer that lines up to his heart
  3. Put on patience. Colossians 3:12 tells us to clothe ourselves in patience! My friend Linda modeled this for me at a conference I spoke at in Canada. Five minutes before we were ready to begin, two of the key ladies needed to host the nearly 500 women were not there. As I paced and bore holes through my wristwatch, Linda looked at me and smiled. Though she fully understood the gravity of the situation, she put on patience rather than panic. Instead of pacing, she chose peace. And it was contagious to the other volunteers who I had put on edge. Linda’s clothing choice changed the atmosphere of the room and my heart.

There are a thousand places we can expect extra patience to be required, an express lane is not one of them. Yet here stood Mr. Whistling Dude and me. And though it may seem easier to purchase patience than practice it, that’s not how God works.

We must look to him and rely on him. And when we do, we can point the impatient to the one who is immensely patient with us (1 Timothy 1:16).

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