I threw my arms over the counter at the Department of Motor Vehicles and locked eyes with the woman standing behind it. Staring wide-eyed, she put her purse back in the drawer and slowly returned to help me.
I had spent five hours going back and forth to our bank’s safe deposit box, looking for documents to prove my identity as a married woman. Social Security had left out that important bit of information when they transferred my data to their newest computer program, and the State of California was now telling me my name didn’t match up with their information. Although I had been married over thirty-five years, nothing seemed to satisfy this gal’s requests. At least she had promised I could go to the front of the line when I returned this last time.
But then, just as I stepped forward, she decided to take her break. Oh, no. This wasn’t going to happen to me! Not today!
“Thank you for your patience” is usually what I hear from a store clerk after dealing with a difficult person in front of me in line. I’m usually a patient person. I’m normally not in that much of a hurry.
I’ve noticed that my patience creates calm in others around me. I feel calmer too if I’m truly being patient and not getting exasperated behind a façade of peacefulness.
Sometimes we need to be patient when we are anticipating good things too. Seeds germinating. Buds opening. Bread dough rising. Learning to play a new song.
It’s also important to show our patience to others. Allowing someone to finish… their sentence… their job… their story.
So many people pray, “Give me patience!” That’s not always a good idea. After all, how do we learn patience? By practicing… by waiting.
I tell people who ask me to pray for their patience that I won’t do it. I’ll pray for courage, calmness of spirit. But if I pray for patience, it’s like I’m asking for situations that will force them to be patient, things that will teach them patience, problems that aren’t easily solved. After all, Paul tells us in Romans 5:3 that suffering produces patience (KJV).
When I read about the sufferings of God’s people on this earth, especially when their faith creates hardship or even death, it’s hard for me to be patient with God. I want answers right now. I want justice right now. I want His power to intervene. Right now!
I discovered a Scripture that speaks to this. I know I’ve read it before, but recently it’s taken on new weight.
“If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity they will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword they will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people” (Rev. 13:10).
How difficult it is to be patient in the face of this kind of hatred of God and His people!
But then I return to Romans. Paul says there is more. This patience bears fruit too: character and hope. Ah… hope.
I know I shouldn’t lose my patience. I know I must remain faithful, waiting on the Lord.
Because He is long suffering… ever patient… with me.
And so I wait. I wait for Him to finish His story, my story. I wait for my life to fully blossom.