How to be Patient

Have you often felt impatient, wishing that God would work on your behalf, even before the whispered prayer for help had left your lips? Restlessness, when I ought to be patient, willing things to happen just a little bit quicker, is a familiar emotion.

"For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." Rom 8:2

Answers eventually arrive, usually in an unexpected manner, sometimes long after I had any expectation left. Then I find myself marveling at the genius of God. He has a way of masterminding timing and circumstances to benefit not only us, but others whose lives intersect ours! 

We see just one aspect of any situation and He sees the whole.

Knowing this does help a little with my patience!

To be patient, recognize impatience.

As a Christian artist, I find myself impatient for ability, mastery, ideas and insight. I long to serve God well in this capacity, to be the best that I can be and to represent Him with excellence.  You probably feel the same way too.

While these are noble sentiments, I am stuck with the reality of where I am and the skills I currently possess, or don't possess. That is where my need for patience screams the loudest.

There is such a yawning gap between what I desire and where I am. When I'm impatient, realizing that patience is a fruit of the Spirit that the King James Bible calls "long suffering", is helpful. Fruit does not grow overnight, but needs time to develop. I need to take a deep breath (or many!) and let God do the developing, submitting in faith to the process at work in me.

To be patient, ask for wisdom to understand.

It's possible to be patient if I understand what is going on. When I create a piece, there are steps in the process that follow in logical sequence. I cannot hurry them along - a layer of paint applied too quickly, before the one below has dried, will spell disaster for the painting.

I can be patient if I know where I am going and how long it will take to get me there. Even a vague image of the final outcome, hovering just out of reach, will encourage me to patiently follow each step in the process.

In our creative lives we can't often anticipate a logical progression to success. There are not always step by step instructions to follow. Instead we have this lurking uncertainty. Will what we create be as we envisioned it? Will it be worth our time and effort? Will God consider it meaningful? Will it eventually bless another? 

When questions like these cannot be answered with certainty, they become the trigger for impatience - at least for me that’s so! 

That is when I ask God for wisdom to grasp what is really going on. What is He attempting to teach me in my impatience?  He is so faithful that when I've asked,  He kindly provides me with just a glimpse to keep me going.

To be patient, remember the mission and the reward.

“Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season, correct, rebuke and encourage with great patience and careful instruction.” 2 Tim 4:2

As artists, we are in a sense visually “preaching the word”. The emphasis is on preparation, readiness and careful, persistent, faithful doing, rather than the outcome.

If I can remind myself that I will be rewarded for faithfulness and refuse to assess my progress by anything other than faithfulness, then I can be patient.

All God asks of me is to be faithful. That is the outcome to strive for - faithfulness in activity as directed by Him. Through what I create, I live the truths that I know; truths about God, His nature, plans and purposes. For each of you that will take different forms unique to your abilities, artistic interests and media of choice.

Our skill, or the lack of it, is not ever assessed by God. Our willingness is.

We are sadly our own worst critics. We assess the merits of our endeavors based on world views that we know conflict with the Bible! How easy it is to forget that we are in the world but not of it! ( John 17:6)

We are on a mission sent by Jesus and therefore, under His command.

"As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world." John 17:18

None of us can see clearly into the future. We have a vague sense of it like a dream, yet if we prayerfully seek God, He will give us His word and promises for it. Clarity, to the degree that His word reveals, is all that we need for each day, to keep pressing towards that future with all its rewards.

Being patient is easy if I remind myself of who promises that ultimate reward.

What God commends He rewards. If He commends patience, then He also rewards it. Just pleasing God is, to me, a reward that keeps me motivated.  But that is not all. The Bible tells me that every promise I desire to see fulfilled in my life will be appropriated only with faith and patience. That is all the incentive I need!

"That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises." Heb 6:12

The Holy Spirit reminds me of these things when I fly off the handle and want my way, NOW! How grateful I am that He never leaves nor forsakes me!

I hope these lessons will encourage you to be patient, in season and out.

Read about the importance of waiting on God.