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There’s a puddle of cereal on the kitchen floor or half a dozen eggs. The baby pooped out of his diaper–AGAIN!
Another little person decided to play tea set with actual water in the bedroom.
Everyone is beyond grouchy.
It’s barely 8 am, school hasn’t started, and you sit with your head in your hands.
The hubs says, “I’ll pray for–” And you just short of snapping his head off say, “Whatever you do, do NOT pray for patience for me!”
You know you need patience. Heavens, you need a break already, and the day hasn’t even started. But heaven forbid that you pray for patience.
Whatever you do, do not ask God to give you patience because patience comes with testing. And if you pray for patience, you are just asking for more crap on your lap.
for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. James 1:3
Praying for patience will jinx you
Used to, when I would send my husband that text that said, “I am about to lose my ever-lovin’ mind at this house,” he would reply back with some variation of, “I’ll pray for you to have patience, ” with some sort of little laughing emoji added. I would give him back a wide-eyed emoji and say, “Don’t you dare.”
I myself would avoid the word patience as if it were some sort of jinx, praying instead for strength and wisdom and understanding and the energy to get through the grind. I had been trained to be scared to ask for patience all the while knowing that was exactly what I needed. Never mind that God knows my heart and thoughts and needs.
Paul gave this list of fruits of the Spirit after he had just given the Galatians a run-down of works of the flesh:
“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.” Galations 5:10-21
In that list, we don’t see impatience, but we do see anger and envy and strife. All three of those are the opposite of patience. I don’t know about you, but I struggle with these. There is a desperate need for the work of the Holy Spirit in my life to weed this sin out.
As Christians, shouldn’t we desire to look like Christ and bear His fruit?
Even if it means we must endure trials and temptations. Even if..
- that means cleaning up the most humongous poop mess you have ever seen! (Once, I left two poopy cloth diapers in the toilet to soak, and a toddling set of twins found them. Huge. Mess.)
- that means you are banging your head against the wall teaching your elementary kid sight words and phonics, and he does not get it.
- that means money has been tight for as long as you can remember because in the beginning you made stupid financial decisions that have seemed forever to overcome.
- that means you are wrecked by the news that your husband has an addiction…to pornography.
- that means you are the one facing a temptation to do something you know is wrong, and you are struggling to stay the course and make the right decisions.
- that means you’ve begging God to bless your womb, and he hasn’t yet, or teased you with a positive line only to snatch it away.
Some people say to me, “You must have the patience of Job.” Friends, Job was a godly man, a true servant to God, faithful in all his ways. He lost everything, and he sat while his “friends” offered advice and reasons he was being tested. Yes, he had patience, but in the end, even he had had enough and questioned God, accused God. And God’s reply to him…
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! (Job 38:4-5)
What if praying for patience was a good thing?
People insist that I have that patience, but I know me–I can sometimes throw one of those infamous hissy fits! While I may be managing to hold it all in and appear to be cool, calm, and collected on the outside, I am gritting my teeth and screaming on the inside.
Maybe that’s where it begins, though. Maybe the inward patience comes when we are praying and fighting through difficult circumstances. Perhaps patience is born through controlling the outside while begging with God on the inside.
I thought about Jacob in the story in Genesis 20. He asked for a woman’s hand in marriage, yet he was deceived by the father into taking the other daughter instead. In order to gain the daughter he desired, Jacob had to work another seven years to gain her hand. Fourteen years of striving for the wife he desired. Imagine how many times he had to control the outside, yet on the inside he was screaming and begging God for help.
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
I’m just like you. Trials, whether the small trial of a poop mess all over the bathroom or the one that rocks your entire marriage, make me angry and frustrated and even defeated and depressed. I beg God every day, multiple times a day, to just help me. Help me. Because just like you, I cannot do this thing on my own.
Patience is a fruit of the Spirit
But one thing I am certain of…. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit, meaning patience is a by-product of our faith and walk with Jesus. As Christians, we should desire not only to have love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, but also patience. It won’t be easy.
Trials will most definitely come, but they’ll come whether we are praying for patience or not. I guarantee you that they will. We might as well accept that if we belong to Jesus, our faith will be tested. It would do us good to open our hearts and pray for the things that identify us with him, to loosen our grip and allow him to work in us a work that only He can.