Last week I introduced the word Sabra and I chose to study—individually and together—throughout 2017. We believe God led us to this word and will use it in our lives and marriage to help us become more Christ-like and to serve Him better. That word is PATIENCE.
This week I want to share some truths about patience that God has already taught me through His Word. This is not everything God has to say about this topic. And these are not in any particular order. They are all equally important. It is a place for us to begin learning about patience.
Five Key Truths about Patience
1 – Patience shows trust in God.
It takes trust in God to wait patiently on Him. It takes patience not to turn to someone or something else when problems and hardship seem to linger on, especially after we have been praying about something for a while. Patience, waiting, and trust are often found together in Scripture.
David wrote in Psalm 40:1-4: “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. 2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. 3 He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him. 4 Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods” (bold mine).
We don’t know what David was facing as he wrote these words, but we can be sure it was a time of great distress for him, and perhaps for the nation of Israel. Words such as “slimy pit,” and “muck and mire” indicate it was a dire, even life threatening situation. Yet David refused to stop trusting God and turn to “the proud,” “false Gods,” or anyone else.
David would continue to wait patiently on God to act. He knew God heard Him and would respond in just the right way and at just the right time. David had experienced God work in his life before, and he confidently trusted that God would act again if he patiently waited on Him.
David had also experienced the devastating effects of not waiting patiently on God. And he did not want to make that same mistake again. We can certainly learn from this in our own lives and marriages.
I can remember times in our marriage when Sabra and I rushed ahead with something. We became impatient and didn’t want to wait any longer, so we made a decision to move forward. While the Lord in His grace later turned it into something good, the immediate result was difficult. If we had patiently trusted God and His timing it would have alleviated much pain.
2 – Patience comes from God.
We will never have patience on our own. As we discussed last week, it is the fourth fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance [makrothymia, which is often translated patience such as in the NASB* and HCSB**], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (bold mine).
Paul also tells us patience comes from God through His Spirit, who is given to us when we receive salvation through faith in Jesus. We read in Colossians 1:9-11: “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience.”
So if we want patience–as individuals and as a couple–we must ask God for it.
If we have accepted Jesus as Savior, we have the Holy Spirit living in us. Therefore, we have the source of patience. We must ask God to grow patience within us. We can be sure this is His desire. And we can count on His promise of 1 John 5:14-15: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.
Just read the Bible from Genesis on and see how patient God is. I can think back over my own life and observe over and over again how He has been patient with me.
We read about God’s patience in 2 Peter 3:8-9: “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (bold mine).
Since God is patient, and we are to become like Him, then we too must be patient. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 11:1: “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” Christ’s example is patience.
Paul writes in Ephesians 4:22-24: “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” He later writes in Ephesians 5:1-2: “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Part of putting on a new self and following God’s example is being patient.
4 – Patience is a command from God.
We read in 1 Thessalonians 5:14: “And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.” Each of these exhortations is written in the imperative form in the original Greek. This means they are not just suggestions, but commands.
The last admonition has become particularly meaningful to me since my illness left me disabled. Sabra is so patient as she waits for me as I work to bring a word to mind. She listens carefully to my sometimes difficult-to-understand speech. She patiently asks questions to make certain she has correctly understood me.
And I have also learned to be more patient from this disability. I am more patient as people sometimes struggle to understand me. I never fail to gain understanding from an elderly person, for example, who may take longer saying something. And it is almost always worth the wait. They may speak a little slower, but like gold formed over longer amounts of time, the nuggets from these older folks are so valuable.
Patience has helped me learn the truth of Job 12:12: “Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?” Learning to listen patiently has allowed me to learn much more. And it has allowed me to be able to help others I counsel.
I also pray that I am learning to be patient with Sabra. I pray that I will listen patiently and carefully to her. I pray that the result will be a more Christ honoring marriage that will bring glory to Him.
5 – Patience comes from reading and living according to God’s Word.
Paul writes in Romans 15:1-6: “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. 2 Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. 3 For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: ‘The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.’ 4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance [patience in KJV*** and ASV****] taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. 5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
There have been many times I have counseled people who struggle with a lack of patience in their lives. This can often be seen in a quick temper or worry, among other things. I ask them if they regularly read the Scriptures and pray. Their answer is almost always the same–no.
We must ask ourselves this question as well: Do we read the Scriptures and pray regularly?
Prayer and the Scriptures have the power to change our heart and attitudes. The “washing of the word” (Ephesians 5:26) is a vital part of this. And this is what will lead to the marriage God desires for us.
This life—and our marriages–will give us plenty of opportunities to practice patience. And God will develop this fruit in us when we seek Him with all our hearts and minds.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
♦ Read this week’s teaching together. What did God bring to your attention that will help you have the marriage He desires for you?
♦ Which of the five truths in the teaching stands out to you as being most important to your marriage right now? Why? In what way will God use it to enrich your marriage?
♦ Since we know that patience comes from God and shows our trust in Him, have you prayed together and asked Him to help you with this? Is there something specific in your marriage right now that you need to continue to wait patiently on and trust Him as you seek His guidance? If so, stop right now and ask Him to help you to trust Him, patiently wait on Him, and not run ahead of Him.
♦ Close your time together by thanking God for His patience with you. Ask Him to help you to take the time to patiently listen to and learn from each other and from other people. Commit yourselves to consistently seek Him and patiently wait to hear from Him by studying His Word individually and together. There is no shortcut to a strong relationship with God or each other. It requires patience.
Next week with the Super Bowl coming quickly on us, we will answer the question: What can we learn about marriage from the Super Bowl?
Until then, may God bless you and your marriage in all His wonderful ways,