I struggle mightily with the petty impatience of every day life – those little irritants that greatly annoy such as slow drivers, clueless people in the self-checkout line, and Janet’s kids (they’re my kids when they behave) – these are fine sand-papers of my life that drive me more than a little crazy.
Last Sunday, I preached out of James 5:7-11 on patience. The patience that James speaks to is not necessarily patience with minor irritants. Instead, he focuses on patience from a 30,000-foot perspective. Using James 5 as a guide, we are going to zoom out on patience and impatience so that we can better understand what is at their core.
When we understand the 30,000-foot view of patience and impatience, we will be able to deal with the petty irritants of daily life.
In James 5, we learn a great deal about patience and how to become more patient. At the core – the main take-away, if you will – is that faith is at the core of patience. The inverse is also true. Disbelief is at the core of impatience. As God’s people in the USA, we are fortunate enough to live in a place where we experience infrequent opposition.
What we struggle with are those petty impatients – those small irritants that in the grand scheme do not matter. But there is a chance – a greater than ever before chance – that we may be headed for days in which we will face persecution – especially due to our adherence to what Jesus teaches on love.
The danger, then, will not be that those small things that make us impatient will go away – oppression amplifies our impatience – faith minimizes impatience, and impatience often leads to grumbling against others.
In James 5:9, we are commanded not to grumble. The danger is that if you grumble now, you will grumble even greater when real oppression hits.
To grumble less, we must grow in faith, and as a result, we will be better prepared for the greater oppression we may experience.
We like to say patience is a virtue. But we tend to see virtues as optional, as something we’d like to attain one day, but maybe not all that crucial to daily life.
Since faith is at the core of patience, disbelief, then, is at the core of impatience.Therefore, because disbelief is at the core of impatience[i], patience, then, is not optional.
But you may be like me – I find it hard to wait on God. It is likely as much a sign of my arrogance as it is my impatience, but I don’t like to wait around – I like to get on with things. This is an example of “The impetuous side of impatience. This is where many of us sin almost daily: charging ahead in our own plans without stopping to consult the Lord.”[ii]
The blessing we receive when we wait on the Lord to act is greater than any blessing we could try to create on our own. When we take our lives into our own hands, according to our own plans, we will inevitably and always come well short of what God would have for us if we only had waited on him.
Grow strong in your belief that God’s plans for you are better than your plans for yourself – in other words – grow in faith and you will grow in patience.