This is part three of a series that asks the question: how can we live a life on target for God? God lays out a clear target for our lives: the Fruit of the Spirit. When these are flowing from our life we know we are hitting God’s desired target. This week we’ll focus on patience on target.
If I’m honest, patience is the Fruit of the Spirit that is most lacking in my life. Its the target I most frequently miss. When we speak of patience, we are not just talking about patiently waiting in line, in traffic, etc. Christopher Wright defines spiritual patience as “the ability to endure for a long time whatever opposition and suffering may come our way.” Patience meanings remaining faithful to God regardless of how difficult life gets. While many of us might say “I would never lose patience with God,” the reality is often different. When things get difficult we often beginning doubting God and looking towards other solutions. The Apostle Paul, for example, endured countless difficulties as he served God, including rejection, illness, a shipwreck, and imprisonment. He reminds us that all of us who follow God will experience difficulty in one way or another.
You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed. 2 Timothy 3:10-14
- Give your challenges to God: One of the biggest mistakes we make is to keep our pain and struggles to ourselves. Instead, we need to share them with God, even if we are frustrated with Him. Never let your pain, worries, and fears overburden and overwhelm you. Instead, give them over to God.
- Remember God is with you: We, often quite understandably, often feel alone when we encounter problems. We feel as if we are the only one facing such issues or that no one understands our pain. The reality is that God is with us no matter the situation. The creator, savior, and sustainer of the universe is on our side in our weakest of moments. His love is with us no matter the situation. The problem is that we tend to close our eyes, hearts, souls, and minds to God during our struggles. Instead, we need to remember that the God who created the universe and saved us on the Cross is always with us.
- Remember God’s eternal plan: Paul tells Timothy that, no matter what happens, to “continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed.” When we encounter difficulty in life we need to turn our focus not towards that which we don’t have and instead towards that which we do have: the promise of eternal life. We live not in fear of what may happen, but in light of what will happen: eternal life with God.