By Pastor Walt Reemtsma, Lone rock Presbyterian Church
The dictionary defines the word patience as the quality of being patient. Patient is defined as the bearing of pains or trials calmly without complaint.
As a young boy living on a farm in northwest Iowa I think the best example of patience that I ever observed was our black cat patiently sitting in the corn crib waiting for a mouse to stick out its head. The cat would sit there for hours not moving a muscle in anticipation of a tasty meal. Do we possess anything close to that amount of patience?
During the past few months we have had lots of opportunities to display patience as we waited for Spring to arrive. The robins were here early in March. They had snow fall on their tails three times, why wasn’t spring here? Snow is reserved for January, February and March. Why did April want to get into the act? By mid-April we are to see tractors in the fields. I don’t know about you but I didn’t see many. Now May is almost over and some farmers are still waiting to plant their fields. Haven’t we been patient enough?
In Galatians chapter 5 we read that patience, among others, is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit given to us when we become a Christian. When was the last time that you admirably displayed patience to those around you? Was it in the checkout line of a store when you discovered a “trainee” was manning the register, the customer demanded a price check and then paid for her purchase using the last coins she had in the bottom of her purse? Was it when there were 25 people waiting to checkout and only 2 checkout lanes were open? Was it when your children all made demands of you at the same time? Was it when your computer froze as you were making an on- line purchase? Was it when a call was dropped or an email failed to send while using a your cell phone? Was it when you were writing a column for this newspaper, you pushed the wrong key and all of your profound thoughts instantly disappeared forever?
There are three thoughts in regard to patience and our ability to bear the frustrations that come our way, allowing us to adapt to them without complaint, that I would like to share. First, most of things that we get impatient about are things over which we have no control. We are not able to control the weather. We do not have the power (thank goodness) to move the air masses from one place to another to coincide with the activities that we have planned for a given day. We cannot control the number of check-out lanes that are open at a given time of the day nor can we choose who should be manning those lanes. We have no power over a cantankerous computer or cell phone.
Second, to be able to practice patience to we need to acknowledge that God is in control of our lives and in doing so we need to place our complete trust in Him as we travel along our journey of life here on earth. God directs our paths. At times there will be instances during which we need to exhibit patience. Times when we wonder why we are in the circumstances we find ourselves in. Yet being patient strengthens our relationship with God.
For the past 6 months our daughter-in-law has been in the hospital recovering from one serious illness after another. Several of those times she was assigned to the Intensive Care Unit finding herself there for weeks at a time. We as a family have learned to be patient as we waited for her to recover only to see her regress significantly just about the time she was to be dismissed. We have had a lot of practice in bearing pains and trials calmly without complaint. Patience takes practice but it is easier when we place our trust in God.
Thirdly, your ability to be patient in trying times serves as a witness to others who may not have a relationship with God.