A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, January 23, 2014
Being Kind? Be Patient.
Sometimes it’s easier for me to be patient. For example, when life is going smoothly, when everyone in my family is healthy and happy, I feel more relaxed, and things are generally on an even keel. Then, I find it easy to be patient in my relationships. But during certain periods in my life, that hasn’t been a very large percentage of time. Specific, stormy periods come to mind, where I could easily compare my life to sailing through crashing, stormy, wind-tossed seas. And this has been a good portion of the time. What then? How can I be expected to be patient, with all heck breaking loose?
I am reminded of a scripture passage from the New Testament on patience. James 1:2-4, where James talks about patience and how the believer receives it. James’s letter was written to a small group of believers in Jesus the Christ (or, Messiah). James wrote it so his readers could be encouraged and comforted. When James puts down in verse 2 “Count it all joy when you fall in various trials,” I can relate to the “trials” part. However, I’m still working on considering the “joy.”
Patience can be both a blessing and an encouragement, in my experience. The first big place I particularly exercised patience was years ago, when I had babies and small children. I loved being a mom, and I loved the time I spent with my children. I enjoyed the slower pace that child-raising necessitated. (Ever take a leisurely stroll with a toddler or preschooler, and see the world through their eyes? Or dance, or sing, or just be silly? Great fun!) But even in the midst of that time with small ones, my life was not all peaches and cream. Worries and concerns, long periods of economic stress, times of personal struggle. Those were definitely not fun.
Going back to James, I’ll mention verse 1:3, “knowing the testing of your faith produces patience.” I understand the word translated “testing” can also mean “challenge.” Another way of thinking of this challenge called life, it produces patience. I know the refining of precious metals requires heating over a steady, consistent flame. Heating the molten metal causes the impurities to rise to the top, where they can be skimmed off. This leaves the precious metal all the more pure and valuable. However, I’m afraid I don’t want to be “challenged” too much more. Ever feel like crying out to God? Telling God to quit it, already? Enough with the steady flames, the fiery furnace. I know this makes the impurities in me rise to the surface. But with the regular fires I’ve been through, my precious metal must be really pure by now. Either that, or there were a whole lot of impurities and dross to skim off.
I used patience today, and yesterday, too. It’s easier to be patient when things are okay. I honored God by showing some amount of patience in my life. I think God is pleased, especially since patience is not one of my preferred gifts of the Spirit. Thanks, God, for helping me show patience to others.