Dr. David Jeremiah once preached a sermon titled. What to Do When You’re In a Hurry and God Isn’t. The subject was patience. He told an amusing story about a man whose car was stalled in traffic to make his point. Everyone seemed to be handling the delay quite well, except for one man who laid on the horn of his car incessantly.
So, the man in the stalled vehicle walked back to the irate driver and said, “Sir, my car will not start. If you will go up there and try to get it going, I will sit here and honk your horn while you are gone.”
Dr. Jeremiah then listed five circumstances when patience is tried to the breaking point.
1. Difficulty: when things are generally not going the way I want them to. Frustration, anger and even deep resentment may set in if I lack patience.
2. Disappointment: when goals I set, ambitions I entertain and objectives I am bent on are blocked. Resignation, exasperation and bitterness may result if I lack patience.
3. Disapproval: when my best efforts are criticized, condemned or sabotaged. Outrage and revenge, or depression and discouragement can put my life into a tailspin if I lack patience.
4. Disaster: I may experience economic loss, the death of a loved one or some other major personal setback. Resignation or surrender to the situation may completely overwhelm me if I lack patience.
5. Dishonesty: when I work to be transparent, accountable and honest with others, and they are dishonest with me. I may be tempted to retaliate in kind and perjure myself to get back at them if I lack patience.
Patience is not sitting complacently with hands folded with a “what’s the use?” attitude toward the situation. It is an active process of assessing my circumstances and deciding what can be reasonably done. Being reasonable is the operative word here.
Two actions immediately come to mind. First is to pray and practice the Serenity Prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.” The wisdom is that I am unable to change another person–only God in His omnipotence can do that; but I can muster up the courage and discipline to change myself and my outlook on my circumstances.
The second tactic is to read and internalize Isaiah 40:31: “Those who wait upon the LORD will gain new strength, they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not grow tired.”