12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (NIV)
It is the age old Christian quip. We say don’t pray for patience because God’s answer is to put us in situations that will surely test it. Of course, as believers, the Holy Spirit continually works to mold us into Christlikeness which is love, and love is patient. So whether you pray for it or not, it’s coming.
But how do we allow the Spirit to increase our patience? This is something we all need more of. Traveling to Kansas City, we saw a few people on the highway with little patience. We could tell by the way they waved at us on the highway. But then, of course, this tested my patience. I caught myself rooting for a man to be pulled over and given a ticket. Not only did I want justice, but I wanted it my way. I suddenly found myself absent of even an ounce or patience.
The spiritual attributes of Christ are developed through suffering. The Bible reminds us that Christ was perfected through suffering. This seems strange because we assume His perfection mirrors His Deity. However, He was also fully human. He was pressed hard in His suffering. In these moments, Christ drew upon the Spirit, and the Spirit increased His love, patience, and goodness so that even His humanity walked in the holiness of God.
The key to greater patience is the ability to draw upon the power of the Spirit in times of testing. Our passage today gives us help on how. In times of testing, we must be joyful in hope. Hope is paramount to having more patience. Hope is found as we turn our eyes off our stressors and focus on the work Christ has promised to do through our stress. Hope is the joy of knowing God is working for us and in us when we cannot discern anything He is doing.
Hope is not our first response to stress. We remember that the act of making ourselves aware of God requires stillness. The psalm says to be still and know He is God. Arresting our emotional turbulence to still our anxious mind is key to taking hold of the hope that matures us in His power. Perhaps the best way to force our mind to be still is to posture ourselves humbly before God, share our struggles, and listen for His response.
Prayer: Lord, help me to deny the surge of emotion in my stress to be still before you in prayer so that You might increase my patience. Amen.