Is Your Patience Well Running Dry?
"I'm done. I can't do it anymore. These kids are driving me crazy."
Are similar words being voiced in your home right now? Because I know they are in the Chandler household. Those particular words were uttered by my wife last night when our seven-month-old attempted to crawl for the thousandth time from our living room into our sun room, a room he knows he's not allowed to enter, got caught on the sliding door track, and started howling in frustration.
About the same time our four-year-old, who's a lunatic on a normal day, comes bouncing into the room with enough energy to power a small city. In the span of 15 seconds, maybe, he leaps over his brother, nearly karate kicks him in the face, proceeds to make a pile of throw pillows on the floor and suddenly our living room is transformed into a jungle. He's a lion and the pillows are prey. They had no chance of survival.
That, or something very similar, happens in our house every 30-45 seconds. How long did the government tell us that we had to be in our homes? Eight weeks? Pass me one of those pillows so I can scream into it.
It seems like we are all in need of a dose of patience these days.
Scripture is littered with passages on patience - Romans 5:2-4, Romans 12:12, 1 Corinthians 13:4-5, Galatians 5:22-23, etc. However, one passage stands out to me as particularly meaningful at this time, Romans 15:1-5.
"We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: 'The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.' For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had."
Growing up, impatient children and adolescents are often told that they should acquire more patience simply because "patience is a virtue." Is that it? Is that the whole reason? End of discussion? We should be more patient simply because it's good to be patient?
Well, there's more to it than that. Learning patience as a child helps us manage those frustrating areas of adulthood, like standing in line at the DMV or waiting on the WIFI to start working again. Life is full of moments when we've done all we can do and have to wait. Teaching our young how to be patient will help develop them for healthy adulthood later in life.
And that's the very problem right there. It will help them. Patience is often taught to children as a means of helping yourself become a better version of yourself. But Paul seems to suggest patience-development for a much different reason. What he seems to say is that displaying patience is a benefit for others. "We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves."
Patience, especially in a frustrating time like the one in which we now find ourselves, has a salvific end. The ultimate example is Christ himself. Christ displayed tremendous patience when he descended from heaven to be born an infant; went through puberty as a pimply 13-year-old boy; rejected Satan's temptation of immediate world domination; although perfect, wore the filth of humanity's sin on the cross and gave up his life for ours. Christ, keep in mind who was fully God, did all that for us and Paul asks us to do the same thing for others. The reason we should learn patience is not because it's a good virtue that every person needs to be a well-rounded adult.
The reason we should learn patience is because it is through immeasurable patience that salvation is made possible.
In another passage, Paul says it this way, "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life (1 Tim. 1:15-16)."
As difficult as it is right now with this Coronavirus situation - and trust me, the Chandler family is right there with you - your children need to witness the same kind of patience from you that you have received from Christ. So, dig deep. Draw from the very bottom of the well if you must. But I bet that if you spend a little time marveling over Christ's sacrifice and what undeserved graces he has performed throughout your life, you will find the well of patience is not that dry after all.