Can You Exercise Patience?
JEHOVAH told Abram: “Go your way out of your country . . . to the country that I shall show you; and I shall make a great nation out of you and I shall bless you and I will make your name great.” (Genesis 12:1, 2) Abram was then 75 years old. He obeyed and wisely exercised patience the rest of his life, waiting on Jehovah.
Eventually, God made this promise to patient Abraham (Abram): “Assuredly in blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply you.” The apostle Paul added: “And thus after Abraham had shown patience, he obtained this promise.”—Hebrews 6:13-15.
What is patience? Dictionaries define it as the ability “to wait calmly for something” or to manifest “forbearance under provocation or strain.” So your patience is put to the test when you have to wait for someone or something, or when you are provoked or under stress. In such situations the patient person remains composed; the impatient one becomes hasty and irritable.
Our Impatient Modern World
Especially in many urban areas, a premium is put not on patience but on speed. For millions of people living in crowded cities, each day begins when the morning alarm goes off. That starts the frantic race—to get somewhere, to see someone, to achieve something. Is it any wonder that many are tense and impatient?
Do you get upset when faced with the shortcomings of others? “I do not like a lack of punctuality,” says Albert. Most would agree that waiting for someone who is overdue is stressful, especially if there is a deadline to be met. Regarding the Duke of Newcastle, an 18th-century British politician, it was said: ‘He loses half an hour in the morning, which he is running after the rest of the day without ever being able to overtake it.’ If you had to depend on such a person day after day, would you remain patient?
When driving an automobile, are you quickly riled, reluctant to wait, or tempted to travel too fast? In such circumstances, impatience often spells disaster. During 1989, in what was then West Germany, more than 400,000 highway accidents resulted in injury or death. Of these, 1 in 3 was caused by driving either too fast or too close to the vehicle in front. At least to some extent, therefore, being impatient was responsible for the injury or death of over 137,000 persons. What a price to pay for impatience!
“I find it difficult to remain patient when someone interrupts all the time,” complains Ann, “or when someone brags a lot.” Karl-Hermann admits that his patience is challenged by “younger ones who have no respect for the elderly.”
These and other situations may make you impatient. How, then, can you cultivate more patience?
Jehovah Can Fortify Your Patience
Many people think that patience indicates indecisiveness or weakness. To Jehovah, however, it bears the insignia of strength. He himself “is patient . . . because he does not desire any to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) To fortify your own forbearance, therefore, stick close to Jehovah and rely on him with all your heart. Strengthening your relationship with God is the single most important step toward developing a patient disposition.
Moreover, it is vital to know Jehovah’s purposes for the earth and mankind. Abraham “was awaiting the city having real foundations [God’s Kingdom], the builder and maker of which city is God.” (Hebrews 11:10) Similarly, it will be beneficial to keep a clear view of divine promises and to be content to wait upon Jehovah. You will then realize that patience, far from denoting hesitancy, actually wins people to true worship. Hence, “consider the patience of our Lord as salvation.”—2 Peter 3:15.
What if your own personal circumstances test your patience almost unbearably? Do unbelievers put you under harrowing strain? Have you been ill for what seems an interminably long time? In such a case, take to heart what the disciple James wrote. After referring to the pattern the prophets supplied in exercising patience, he revealed the secret of remaining calm under severe stress. James said: “Is there anyone suffering evil among you? Let him carry on prayer.”—James 5:10, 13.
Earnestly ask God in prayer to fortify your patience and help you control your spirit under trial. Turn to Jehovah repeatedly, and he will help you identify the circumstances or the habits of others that pose a particular threat to your composure. Praying in advance of potentially trying situations can help you to keep calm.
A Proper View of Self and Others
To maintain a placid frame of mind, you must view yourself and others in a proper manner. This is possible through a study of the Bible, for it shows that everyone has inherited imperfections and therefore has foibles. Moreover, Biblical knowledge will help you grow in love. This quality is essential in order to manifest patience toward others.—John 13:34, 35; Romans 5:12; Philippians 1:9.
Love and an eagerness to forgive can calm you down when you get agitated. If someone has habits that get on your nerves, love will remind you that it is the habits you find disagreeable, not the person. Consider how often your own weaknesses must test God’s patience and must exasperate others.
A correct view of yourself will also help you to wait patiently. For instance, have you been reaching out for privileges in Jehovah’s service, only to be disappointed? Do you sense your patience running out like the last grains of sand in an hourglass? If that is so, then remember that much impatience is rooted in pride. “Better is one who is patient than one who is haughty in spirit,” said Solomon. (Ecclesiastes 7:8) Yes, pride is a major impediment to the cultivating of patience. Is it not true that the humble person finds it easier to wait calmly? Therefore, cultivate humility, and you will be better able to accept delay with peace of mind.—Proverbs 15:33.
Patience Pays Rich Rewards
Abraham is primarily known for his faith. (Romans 4:11) Yet, patience made his faith durable. What was his reward for waiting on Jehovah?
Abraham was granted Jehovah’s increasing trust. Abraham’s name thus became great and his descendants a mighty nation. All nations of the earth can bless themselves by means of his seed. Abraham served as spokesman for God and even as a type of the Creator. Could there have been any greater reward for Abraham’s faith and patience?
“Jehovah is very tender in affection” toward Christians who patiently endure trials. (James 5:10, 11) Such individuals enjoy a clean conscience because of doing his will. In your case, then, if you wait on Jehovah and patiently endure trials, your forbearance will result in Jehovah’s approval and blessing.
Patience serves God’s people well in every aspect of life. Two of Jehovah’s servants, named Christian and Agnes, discovered this when they decided to get engaged. They delayed the engagement out of respect for Christian’s parents, who needed time to get to know Agnes. What effect did this gesture have?
“Only later did we realize how much our patience meant to my parents,” explains Christian. “Our patiently waiting did not kill the relationship between my wife and me. But it was the first building block in our relationship with my parents.” Yes, patience pays rich dividends.
Patience also promotes peace. Family and friends will be grateful that you do not make an issue of their every lapse. Your calmness and understanding when others make mistakes will prevent embarrassing scenes. A Chinese proverb says: “Patience in a moment of anger will spare you a hundred days of anguish.”
Patience enhances your personality, in effect coating other fine qualities with a varnish of permanence. It makes your faith durable, your peace long lasting, and your love unshakable. Being patient will help you to be joyful while practicing kindness, goodness, and mildness. Exercising patience builds up the strength essential to the cultivating of long-suffering and self-control.
Wait patiently for the fulfillment of Jehovah’s promises, then, and you are assured of a wonderful future. Like Abraham, may you “through faith and patience inherit the promises.”—Hebrews 6:12.
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A close relationship with Jehovah will help you to display patience, as Abraham did