Monday, August 15, 2011

Patience and Perseverance

For some reason I can't exactly put my finger on, I'm feeling tremendously anxious this week, although there isn't really a good reason (it's not overwork, and things overall are going well). It's highlighting that patience isn't my strong suit.

Patience and Perseverance. They're very different beasts.

Patience is tolerating pain, frustration or other annoyance, often with an aspect of waiting, and often on issues outside your control.

Perseverance is the dedication to stick-to-it, being diligent, seeing something through to completion.

Persistence is working hard, in spite of or to remove a difficulty.
Patience is waiting for the difficulty outside your control to disappear.

I'm pretty darn good at persistence. I can be downright awful at patience :)

How to respond biblically? It's frustrating that James (5:7-8) commands us to be patient but doesn't give us much on how. God grants wisdom in abundance when we ask (James 1:5), but patience is another matter. Colossians also commands us to clothe ourselves in patience (1:12) and to just let peace rule in our hearts (1:15). Again... how?

First, remember that peace and patience are two character qualities listed as fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22). We don't grow the fruit. We abide in the Lord, and the Spirit brings forth the fruit. We water, we walk in the Spirit, we pray, but ultimately these fruit come from a life that is intimately related with Christ.

Second, with respect to anxiety, here's a favorite (and helpful) verse - Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV):
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Right as I'm about to hit the post button a friend just emailed me, to encourage me with this verse (Rom 5:3, MSG)
"We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!"
And so... to the throne I go, in prayer. Will you join me?

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