The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience… Gal 5:22
The King James Bible calls patience long suffering. Somehow to me patience sounds like a virtue to desire, but long suffering… well that sounds too much like Job!
I think everyone would love to be able to say that they are patient, but probably none of us enjoy the process of long suffering that is required to actually become patient.
I believe the only way to grow in patience is to experience times of trials, disappointments, frustrations and failures. It is during these difficult stretches that the Lord enables the fruit of patience to grow strong.
Patience is like camping with your tent pitched solitarily in the forest. The journey into the woods can be quite arduous. There might not be a road so you have to carry your equipment as you trudge through the forest.
You have to be aware of your surroundings. Once you have located the spot to pitch the tent you still have to clear the area of branches, rocks and sticks. You might have to smooth some of the forest floor.
Much work is required to set up the tent. The tent pegs need to be securely in the ground and the ropes tight so the tent remains steadfast even if a storm develops. Air needs to be put in your air mattress. Wood needs to be gathered to make a camp fire.
But when the hard work of setting up your campsite has been done well, then you get to enjoy the stillness and the wonder of God’s creation.
These trials, with the consequent work that ensues from them, develop our patience. They can be a constant irritant or you can see them as the sand in the oyster creating the pearl. Nobody enjoys hardships, yet even the Lord endured pain and suffering.
Often when you are in the midst of a trial you feel like you are alone and sometimes it does seem like it will never end. Job had his “friends” but they were not his source of encouragement.
We need the Lord to encourage us when we face hardships. Romans 5:3-4 reminds us that we should rejoice in our sufferings, because suffering produces perseverance (patience) and this perseverance builds our character so that we can become imitators of Christ. Let us gladly run the race that He has set before us.
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