Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.
~Anne Isabella Ritchie~
Admittedly, I am a sometimes a slow learner, especially when it comes to spiritual matters. I have it in my head how I think God should respond according to what I want sometimes to the exclusion of stopping to look at how God is actually answering my prayers. For this week’s Thursday’s Transforming Truths, I want to talk about patience, which is not exactly one of my strong attributes.
Countless times throughout this journey I have prayed for patience. Sometimes it was over something trivial, other times it felt like a plea spoken from somebody at the end of their rope. I wanted God to wave a magic wand and grant me patience to get through the situation.
Oddly enough, the days I prayed for patience often felt like they were ten times worse than the situation leading up to the prayer. It seemed God had not only told me, “No”, but that he was punishing me for even asking. I was quite confused by this phenomenon.
Given my propensity to treat my relationship with God like a two year old demanding something of a parent, I became disheartened with God’s response. Instead of stopping to accept it, I decided it was better to just quit praying for patience.
It became a subject that I would mull over in my head often. In a journey through infertility and adoption, patience is something that is extensively needed. Time and time again I would be tempted to pray for God to gift this to me, but then I would stop short, acutely aware of how God had previously answered that plea.
I was looking for a gift of patience, but here is the funny thing –it’s something I already had.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we life by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” ~Galatians 5:22-25.
Patience dwelled within my Spirit. God was giving me opportunity to exercise this virtue.
I am a runner. I know that in order to increase endurance I have to push myself through discomfort in order to obtain that. Within most of us dwells the ability to run, but it is something one must work at. No one goes out and runs a marathon their first day. It takes practice and hard work. Patience is the same thing.
In order to increase my patience, I needed to be exposed to uncomfortable situations so I could increasingly endure more difficult circumstances. According to scripture we who have received the gift of the Spirit already have patience within us. God will help us increase this virtue, but like anything worthwhile in life, it has to be worked for.
So, the next time you find yourself dejected by an unusually difficult day after praying for patience, know that God heard you. He has answered your prayer with a definite “Yes!” But, like a lot of things about our relationship with God, we need to step back and accept the answer through the eyes of God, not our own tainted perspective. He loves us and wants the best for our lives! Gifting us patience for a day does nothing to train our Spirit. Teaching us to be patient through trials yields a lifetime of benefit!