The Bible and Patience

I have encountered a variety of situations in my life recently which have really tested my patience. Sometimes it is little things that frustrate me, such as people throwing litter onto the street or when people stand at a crossing for ages and don’t press the button, seemingly not realising that the lights won’t change unless they do…

These are petty frustrations, but I have also been experiencing more serious frustrations. People driving recklessly, for instance. On several occasions recently I’ve seen cars drive straight through a red light in a busy area. And in a similar way, it frustrates me when cars stop right in the middle of a crossing, ignoring their duty to ‘Keep Clear’ of certain areas. Where is the common decency?

I have also been frustrated by people acting unprofessionally when they have a duty to be caring. I was in A&E recently and a security guard was flirting with with two nurses for around 15 minutes when they all should have been working (they were definitely not on a break!). In another scenario, there’s a parking attendant at one of my local supermarkets who is constantly on the phone and smoking cigarettes during work time. I don’t want to be judgmental but it seems very thoughtless and unprofessional.

I should point out that I’m aware of how blessed I am in my life and I know there are countless people living with a much deeper level of frustration than I experience. I’m aware that we all have grumbles like those I have mentioned here in our lives. We all have to associate with people who we don’t get along with all the time. And perhaps there are things that I do, even unconsciously, that frustrate others. I know I’m not perfect.

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So what are we to do when we’re feeling angry about life’s frustrations? We should surely turn to the Holy Bible for guidance, for this is the Word of God, and as we read in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”.

And what does the Bible say about patience? Here are some scriptures that I hope are relevant:

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” (Romans 12:12)

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)

“Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools.” (Ecclesiastes 7:9)

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant” (1 Corinthians 13:4)

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19)

And here’s a scripture that I find particularly helpful:

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.” (Psalm 37:7-9)

I think one of the secrets to being patient is to keep our minds focused on our Heavenly Father and on spiritual things and not earthly things. We should always act in a way that makes us feel as though we are behaving righteously in the sight of God. We should live to please God and not to please others. Even if others frustrate us by their actions, we should lead by example. As Jesus famously said – “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Mark 12:31). And Jesus also taught us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44).

So the next time you’re feeling angry and as though your patience has run out, remember that God, through His Word, has taught us a great deal about how to handle these difficult emotions. My prayer is that as I continue to follow Jesus, God will shape me and teach me to be a more perfect and patient servant.

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