God is patient

In my first year of married life I discovered that my wife could be incredibly forgetful. As we only had one car it was arranged that she would pick me up from work and drive me home. Sadly for me, and in a time before the convenience of mobile phones, I would often find myself after a long day’s work just waiting and waiting and waiting. As I waited, powerless to do anything and unable to contact her, I would find myself becoming angrier and angrier. Normally by the time she had remembered and finally arrived to pick me up she found herself engaging with a walking volcano. As she later confessed to me, having experienced my anger previously, when she realised that she had indeed forgotten, she would take even longer to pick me up out of fear of my wrath.

What could I do. There was a big part of me that felt incredibly justified at getting angry and even expressing my anger to my new bride over her tardiness. I assumed that a good dressing down would help her overcome her forgetfulness. At other times I would attempt to psychoanalyse what was happening in her, being aware that lateness might well be an expression of rebellion that was being projected on me on the basis of past experiences. And then, at other times, I would consider the possibility that I was simply over reacting.

The Lord eventually began to open up his word to me. I knew that God is love. 1 John 4 alerts me to this. I also was aware that I was called to reflect God’s love to my wife. 1 Corinthians 13 also tells me that ‘love is patient’. I knew therefore by reason of simple deduction that God in his love towards me and others must indeed be patient with us. The obvious outcome for me then was the realisation that God’s call to me to love others, including my wife, was a call to evidence his patience towards them.

I have to admit that initially I considered this to be a little bit unfair. Surely it is only reasonable to be patient with those deserving of patience. Slowly but surely I became convinced of what is obvious in Scripture, that I needed to be obedient and Christlike even towards those who in no ways deserved my patience.

Patient?

The long and short of this story is that I learnt to be patient with my wife. Rather than blow my top at her when she was late, I would simply learn to use the extra time I had in waiting to pray and catch up with work. And whilst it took her awhile to notice and appreciate my new attitude and approach to her and her lateness, when she did, her forgetfulness lessened and even when she did forget, she no longer took even longer in order to brace herself for my explosion. God is indeed love. Love is patient and therefore God is patient. If God is patient with us as his word often tells us he is, even with our rebellion and sinfulness, may we also with his Spirit’s help express his patience with those he brings across our path who upset and frustrate us. May the difficult ones he puts in our lives be opportunities for rejoicing and increased growth in fruitfulness in him.