We are living in the age of impatience. Whether it’s waiting in line, waiting in traffic, waiting for food service, or waiting for marriage, biding our time is more counter-cultural than ever. We’ve been conditioned to have it our way, right away. First it was fast food and instant coffee; then it was everything else as well. In such a day as ours, we have all the more reason to marvel at Jesus’s perfect patience. Not only do we have the old-covenant examples of the psalmists — who “waited patiently for the Lord” (Psalm 40:1) and encouraged their readers to do the same (Psalm 37:7); we also have Abraham (who “having patiently waited, obtained the promise,” Hebrews 6:15), along with all “those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Hebrews 6:12). And most importantly, we have the God-man himself as the example of “perfect patience” (1 Timothy 1:16).
When Jesus displays his patience, he not only shows us the very patience of his Father, but he does so as fully human. He demonstrates the kind of divine life that can be expressed in our own human flesh. And so the Bible is full of calls to Christ-like patience. The New Testament gives us at least five specific situations in which God empowers us to wait well. Consider these as prompts for prayer and particular opportunities to seek greater patience in the strength he supplies (1 Peter 4:11).
1. Patience with People
We may be prone to think of patience first in relation to things — whether it’s food service or Internet connection speed. But behind things is people. We live in a personal universe, created by a personal God, and our daily circumstances, even when they feel isolated from everyone else, are inevitably formed and shaped by other people. If we are to be increasingly patient people, it will have to relate to actual people.