2 Peter 1:5-7
5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
We now move on to cover the topic of patience. Have you ever met an individual who you knew had a lot of patience? Did you ever wonder how in the world he or she had the capability to have patience with whatever it was you admired? For me, there are a handful of people that come to mind. Each of them had patience in a specific situation or with specific groups of people. I think of them when I want to increase in my ability to be patient. I used to think that maybe these people were just naturally more patient than I was, that maybe patience was just one of their special qualities. However, as I have continued to ponder my inadequacy, I have come to the realization that likely, that was not the case. They may have personality traits that allow them to have a disposition more willing to accept others or their circumstances calmer than the majority of people would, but I believe that they had to work at developing patience as well. It could be that they learned patience at a very young age thanks to the examples of their family members or teachers or maybe a specific situation in their life brought about their ability to submit to whatever trials were placed in their path. Some of us, myself included, need several circumstances to allow us the opportunity to learn a bit more patience each time, yet we are not one hundred percent patient in a similar circumstance down the road.
Why does the attribute of patience have such different effects on others? Some look forward to learning and praying about patience while others try to avoid it at all costs thinking that God will likely answer their inquiries by putting a difficult trial or individual in their way to help them learn about that attribute better. Last month, I had the opportunity to teach the young women in my congregation about Christlike attributes. I utilized the focus scripture to guide our discussion. I let them pick which attributes they wanted to learn more about. They chose patience first. I would like to share one of the scriptures I used in that lesson.
3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
I would like to ask you, do you glory in your tribulations? Why in the world would we do that? Verse three answers the question and continues on to verses four and five. It’s true that we likely do not glory in or enjoy our trials. I know I don’t. As my husband put it, he recognizes his trials at the time being, but he doesn’t glory in them until the trials have passed. Having challenges is no fun, but there is always a reason for them. Sometimes they are not because of something we did. Sometimes they are because of the choices of those around us, a genetic predisposition, or a natural disaster. I love the part in verse three that says “knowing that tribulation worketh patience.” Yes, we know that. We have gone through the process of gaining a bit of patience and being able to say that we experienced whatever the situation was. But does patience in the tribulation come easy? It may come easy to you, but definitely not for me.
The last blog post focused on ‘Five Steps to Become Temperate in All Things.’ The five steps that were given then apply to the process of patience as well. Let’s revisit them:
Recognize your weakness
Come unto Christ to identify the purpose of your weakness
Have faith in Christ
Christ will guide and strengthen you to make weak things become strong
Now change the word weakness to whatever specific trial or difficult individual you have to interact with right now. For example, here is mine:
Recognize that I have Piriformis Syndrome
Come unto Christ to identify the purpose of having Piriformis Syndrome
Have faith in Christ
Christ will guide and strengthen me to make my Piriformis Syndrome become strong
Since I was little, I had several opportunities to be active and participate in sports. Cross country and track became my favorite sports. I stopped participating in sports in college, but every once in a while I would jump on the treadmill and do my own mini 5k’s. Three years ago, that changed. I tried running one morning as I usually would have, and a few days later my right leg went numb. I couldn’t walk because it hurt to walk. I started the process of seeing doctors to figure out what was going on with me. After several months, they figured out it was from Piriformis Syndrome. The piriformis is a muscle within the gluteal area that can spasm and mimic Sciatica.
I started and finished a course of physical therapy thinking that was the end of it because I was able to run again without any problems, but it came back. I did a second course of physical therapy, and it diminished for a few months allowing me to run once again. But it returned. I’ve tried other things besides physical therapy and am still in the process of figuring out how to help that poor little muscle become strong. This entire process has humbled me several times. I have been on my knees pleading with God to take it away, to help me accept my circumstances, to allow me to rejoice in this new weakness of mine as I discover other activities I can replace my love for running, and to continue to rely on my Savior on the days that I am frustrated because of my weakness. You see, it’s not just about wanting to run. It’s about walking and sitting down without pain as well. I’ve had to change my morning routine just so that I have time to stretch before going to work or turn down activities that I know would aggravate the muscle more and leave me having to rely on medications for weeks.
This has definitely not been the worst of the trials I have had to deal with during my lifetime, but it has certainly tried my patience more than other trials have. Which is why I wanted to use it in this blog post. I can glory in this tribulation in the fact that I can apply symbolism to it while I share it with you. A weak muscle. A weakness. A problem. We do all we can to get to the root of the problem and find ways or individuals to help us fix the problem. We become successful but end up in square one sometimes because we are human. And the process starts over. We turn to God and Jesus Christ for help as well, hoping for healing or for our burdens to be made lighter. We continue to address the problem as best we can with their help, sometimes making changes to our routine or associations with others, until we finally reach the end. We look back on our experience and recognize we were truly blessed with the strength to overcome, ponder the blessings and lessons from such experience, and maybe even look for ways we can help those in similar situations. However, sometimes that problem doesn’t have an end. We may be plagued with it for the rest of our lives. It becomes a “thorn in the flesh.”
In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, Paul declares
7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
Paul understood the purpose of his “thorn in the flesh” and relied upon the Lord for help. Even though the answer He received was not for the thorn to be removed, he learned powerful lessons about grace, strength, and giving his all to further the gospel of Jesus Christ. May we all find joy in developing and increasing in patience and remember Paul’s example when we feel trodden down.
Make sure to sign up for the free Christlike Attributes Evaluation Challenge so you can find out how you can become more patient and learn about the other attributes as well.
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