Developing Character through Patience
In these times of instant gratification, little does anyone think of patience. This is a virtue many think they don’t need. The main reason why many don’t want to exercise patience is because it involves some kind of suffering. It involves accepting or tolerating delays, problems, or distress without becoming annoyed or anxious. Patience has to do with endurance, and endurance involves pain. People usually don’t want to undergo any pain.
There is a saying, “No pain, no gain”. While patience is painful, it is necessary to succeed in our Christian walk. God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. (Romans 2: 6-8).
In the life cycle of a butterfly, it has to go through four stages called as metamorphosis. These four stages are egg, larva, pupa and adult butterfly. When the egg of the butterfly hatches, a tiny caterpillar is born. Once the caterpillar has fully grown, it forms itself into a pupa (the cocoon), also known as a chrysalis. From the outside of the cocoon, it looks as if the caterpillar may just be resting, but inside the cocoon, it is radically transforming itself, eventually emerging as a beautiful butterfly. If the caterpillar never undergoes metamorphosis it would never become a butterfly.
In life, if we don’t go through the waiting time, the pressure time, the enduring time, the suffering time, we will never go through the transformation we need in order to fulfil our destiny. Patience is essential if you want to triumph. A couple can have a great marriage only if they are patient with each other. Parents can raise exceptional children only when they have patience. Lack of patience is what gives birth to dysfunctional families.
Parents can teach their children patience only if they have learnt it first. There are people that walk away from their jobs just because they have no patience. We face road rage sometimes because there are people who never know what it is to be patient. There are people that give up on their dreams due to impatience. Youngsters that lose their virginity just because they don’t want to wait until they are married.
Impatience will chase you and defeat you in every area of your life, even if you are a great person, extremely talented, influential, ambitious, humble and generous. But if you lack patience, it will propel you spirally downward into a rut. There’s no greatness without patience. Excellence will not thrive with impatience. If you are impatient you will face roadblocks in every path you take. You will just keep on failing until, you have learnt patience.
Patience helps us build our character. If a person has no character, he has no identity, he is nobody. Patience helps us excel in every area of our lives. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character, and character produces hope (Romans 5: 3-4).
Greatness comes down to nothing if we don’t learn to be patient. We learn that from the life of John the Baptist. “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” (Matthew 11:11). Even though John was the greatest amongst all the prophets and greatest amongst all men, he got impatient and offended at Jesus. When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offence at me.’ (Matthew 11:2-6).
John the Baptist was the one to prophesy about Jesus saying, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1: 29b). Yet when he was in prison he had trouble believing what he had prophesied. That’s why St Paul says, But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:27).
Do you get impatient and offended at God, because you don’t understand why things go wrong or when things don’t happen your way? Do you get bitter when God is very slow to answer your prayers and you are in an urgent need? No matter what you go through in life, never make the mistake of getting offended at God because He is the only one that truly loves you and cares for you.
How then does one develop this virtue of patience? Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land. (Psalms 37:7-9).
Even if you have been impatient most of your life, it’s never too late to change. Try exercising patience in the little things and in your everyday life: while you are waiting in a queue, while in traffic, when people offend you, in times of sickness and inconvenience, when faced with all sorts or trials. In times when you feel like giving up, that’s when you need to be the most patient. Keep fellowshipping with the Holy Spirit and walk in Godly love. Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant, or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13: 4-7).
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