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The Patient

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Gal. 2:20

One of my favorite Homer Simpson lines from back in the day is, “And now we play The Waiting Game…the Waiting Game sucks! Let’s play Hungry Hungry Hippo instead!” Oddly, I have found comfort in that crazy yellow cartoon man’s words as I have waited through this adoption process and it’s many steps, waited and waited for our former home to sell (and then to find renters when the sale fell through), waited and waited and waited to get to our permanent address (which also has been deferred) and then waited through the grueling banking process to close on this next home on that same street. Now that we are actively moving towards finally living there, it is clear that waiting alone does not grow patience. Experience is not a guaranteed teacher. And, patience not only isn’t taught, it clearly isn’t “caught” either.

God doesn’t teach patience as if it is informational or conceptual. Patience isn’t a skill to be fine tuned by repeated practice, it isn’t a lesson to be learned, and it isn’t a commodity to “go get”. Patience is part of who God is: God is love.(1 John 4:16) Love is patient. (1 Cor. 13:4)

It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 1 Cor. 1:30

A man’s wisdom gives him patience;…Prov. 19:11a

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Gal. 5:22-23

Jesus, who is the very embodiment of God, in whom the fullness of God dwells, became wisdom and lives in me. As His life is revealed in me, His patience becomes evident like fruit on a tree which grows in the appointed season. I can’t learn patience or “get” patience or hone my patience skills because Jesus isn’t a lesson or a commodity or a skill . Whether by a huge life transition (moving, adopting, birthing, new jobs, marriage, etc.) or bumper to bumper traffic, or a waiting room where time seems to stand still, I am confronted (and harassed) by my lack of patience and often merely resolve to learn, fine tune or get more.

But the complete picture of patience is also how we use the term in dealing with whiney children, disgruntled adults, chronic illnesses and other evidences of broken shalom around us: long suffering. And that is where the connection between patience and Jesus becomes even more clear. My hope in Christ is integrally connected to “long suffering”.

In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. Hebrews 2:10

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Rom. 5:1-5

When my heart starts pounding, my nerves stand on end, my mind won’t stop racing or my mouth begins firing darts at those around me, would I not look to new resolves or methods but to Jesus – the author and perfector of my faith. It is His person that is needed, not some manufactured counterfeit aspect of Him.

In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Phil. 1:4-6

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