Sunday, November 6, 2011

Oh Lord Give Me Patience...

We had our meeting with the psychologist and she observed Nate at school two days last week. Interestingly enough he had good days at school all last week!  She is going to start working with him though for two days a week & for now her goal will be to help him with expanding his attention span.

This post is something I wrote in March of this year, but never finished it or published it.  I was just thinking about it & thought I would post it now.  

The other day I overheard a conversation which actually irritated me.  Honestly I wanted to say, "That's so stupid!"  Well, I didn't really want to say that out loud, but that's what I was thinking.  Now maybe you've heard this kind of conversation before, and maybe you've even been the one saying these kind of things.  If that's the case, I'm not saying you, or anyone else is stupid, understand me please.  What I am saying is that although this kind of logic may seem to make sense on the surface, if you really think about it, it is completely nonsensical.

Now, you're really curious, you want to know, what were they saying?  The conversation caught my ear when someone said something like, "oh, no don't pray for patience!"  I've heard people say that before.  They will talk about how they or someone else they know was praying for patience & then it seemed like all hell broke loose in their lives.  In this conversation the example given was of a young woman who had 2 babies that were 14 months apart, and her response was, "Well, I was praying for patience!"  The conversation continued and one of the ladies chimed in, "I always tell people, don't pray for patience, pray for peace!"  You could tell she was quite proud of this heavenly "loophole" she had found, as she repeated it again later.

Why does this type of conversation bug me so much?  I think one reason is the implication it makes about the kind of God that we serve.  The connotation to "don't pray for patience" is that if we pray & ask God to give us patience it's like he says, "Oh!  You want patience do you?  Well, here you go try these trials on for size!"  Like our God takes pleasure in bringing difficulties our way.  If we pray for patience then he dumps on us, but if we pray for peace, oh then he just calms everything down & makes life quiet.  That somehow if we make sure to NEVER utter a prayer for God to give us patience then we can make it through life with less problems.  That prayer for patience is like hitting the wrong button, the one that makes the floor drop out from underneath you.  That's just not how prayer, or our spiritual life, or our God are!  It is a warped and wrong view of all of the above.

Something else brought in as "proof" in the above conversation was one woman said, "That's right, because 'tribulation worketh patience'".  She was quoting from Romans 5:3 (King James version, NIV uses the word perseverance in place of patience) and the logic there being that if you pray for patience you are in actuality asking God for tribulation (trials, hard times).  First of all, let's look at that scripture in context.  Romans 5:1-3 says,

"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Did you catch that?  The writer tells us that we "glory" in sufferings, because we know they produce perseverance, which leads to character, which leads to hope! Without sufferings we do not learn to persevere, and without perseverance we do not develop character, and without character we do not know the basis & reality of our hope.  So, if you want to be a quitting, character-less, hope-less Christian then, yes, please don't pray for patience!

Let's think about the "fruits of the Spirit" as they are referred to in the Bible. They are called this because they are the evidences (fruits) that should be seen in the life of someone who has the Spirit of God.  What are they?  Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control.  Shouldn't all of these be attributes that we desire to see more of in our lives?  Don't others need to "eat" of this good "fruit" so they will benefit as well?  We need the fruit of the spirit in our lives not only for our benefit but also for the benefit and nourishment of others.  I believe that if the Spirit of God lives in us we do not need so much to work to produce these fruits as to get ourselves out of the way & allow more of God to shine through us.  If you want patience (and I believe you should) as well as peace, love, joy, and all the rest, then what you need to do is cultivate the Spirit of God more in your life.  Focus more on Him, through worship, through prayer, through reading His word, through meditating on his goodness, through declaring his character & ways.  Then when those trials do come (and they will, no matter if you pray for patience or not) it will be a matter of further refining God's character within you, not starting from nothing!

What do you think?  Have you thought this same way?  What are your thoughts about "praying for patience"?  Is it somewhat like the comment, "Don't tell God, 'I'll never' [go to Africa] because that's right where he'll send you..."  oh, but that is a discussion for another day!  :)

God Bless You,