Patience – The Vulnerable Fruit of the Spirit

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God, give me patience!!!!!! What we are really saying when we pray this is or scream this (let’s be honest) is, “God remove me from this tension that I am in. I don’t like it.” Tension is uncomfortable. Tension is vulnerable.

Patience creates tension. This is part 4 of our series on the vulnerability that is a part of each of the fruits of the Spirit. Like we learned with love, joy, and peace, we use patience as a way to control our faith.

When we’re bringing our prayers to God again and again, we all grow tired of waiting. All of us. Not just you. It soon begins to feel like our prayers are falling onto deaf ears. Our reaction to the silence is to then take control or just “do the best you can” for the situation. God’s seeming silence is tension inside of us.

So then we add to our prayers a prayer for patience. This seems like the godly and wise thing to do in this uncomfortable situation. And yet we still fail to really have the patience. The tension is so uncomfortable and taking control is easier.

Asking for patience often makes us feel like a failure.

Here’s a little Greek Bible truth. Patience as listed in Galatians 5 is often called long suffering. The original Greek word is makrothumio, meaning “long temper.” Having this fruit of the Spirit means we are to keep a long and slow temper towards God, others, and ourselves. What?!!! This doesn’t sound holy. This doesn’t sound brave. This sounds wrong. This sounds uncomfortable. This sounds like staying in vulnerability instead of having something fixed or over with. Oh, then this does sound like something brave.

Long temper is a good synonym for what I call holy tension. Holy tension is pushing through our “supposed to be’s” and letting time that God uses to create the bigger and better outcome. It feels better to move through any tension quickly. Whether to move through it in a speedy way—that may short-circuit the work of that tension—or to divert out of the tension or to numb the tension. All three are options people take all the time. Which one do you do? How many bad decisions have you made trying to get out of that tension? This is often the place where regrets happen. Often after we have prayed a prayer for patience. This is why we feel like a failure in patience.

Ugh the vulnerability.

Our reality as Christians is not within our apparent circumstances—or are “supposed to’s”–but rather in the truth of Christ’s love and life in us. Ecclesiastes 3:11, Isaiah 55:8-9 and Hebrews 10:35-36 are great reminders that these rest solely in the domain of God’s knowledge. Ecclesiastes 3:11 is a great reminder of what the beautiful people know. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. (That is a pretty verse!)  

Our role here is to trust the promise of Philippians 1:6 and wait with hope (making those Plan Bs because you are worthy of something good happening to you) as God’s brings about to completion the good work He began in each of our lives. This takes time. Time that is not on our schedule. We can’t control this.

God grant me the patience and in the meantime I’m going to have this long temper with you so I continue to pray and ask questions and seek until I can see the beautiful things in my life.

Acknowledging my long temper with God feels like I am doing something while not moving through the holy tension too quickly. That helps me have more patience. It really does.

Something else I’ve also learned from my many long tempers with God. God is not silent. God does not hate me. God is close to the broken-hearted. God loves me, knows my pain, and I am worthy of something good coming out of this smashed heart. This is why I walk with a limp. I’ve dared to wrestle with God many times.  This has helped grow my patience.

Bearing the fruit of the Spirit of patience is simply having a long temper with God. Stay in the vulnerability of that. The fruit is good.

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