“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other.”
Jesus lived out and modeled a patient life with the disciples, crowds and even the leaders of His chosen people. Last week we saw how love and compassion are synonymous. Jesus had unending compassion for the hurting, sick and broken, like the woman at the well.
I believe it was Jesus’ genuine love and compassion for the crowds of broken people that empowered His tremendous patience in spite of the fact that they fell helplessly short of Old Testament law.
As I studied the nature of love seeking to understand how to put it into practice in my life and with my kids I was convicted by the fact that patience is listed first in the characteristics of love in in 1 Cor. 13: 4-8. My lack of compassion had the inverse effect of making patience more difficult with the ups and downs of life, myself and my kids. I focused more on the negative than the positive.
According to Psychology Today’s article, The Neuroscience of Patience, studies found that the confidence we have in the outcome impacts people’s patience significantly. For example while waiting for food when hungry, the confidence that the food will be available or arrive increases the level of patience we have with the wait. The inverse is also true. If we have little confidence in the outcome, the less patience we will have.
Perhaps this is why God is so patient and compassionate. He knows what the outcome will be. Jesus had confidence not only in His ability to help and heal people but also in the fact that His peoples’ shortfall related to Old Testament law would be resolved by His sacrifice for all sin on the cross.
Given this, a case could be made that followers of God should be the most patient people on the planet for several reasons:
We have a God who:
- Has a plan not to harm us but to refine us. He is at work in our issues. Thus we can have confidence that even in the unexpected negative things that impact us, there is a positive outcome when we seek His face.
- Will take care of us like the lilies of the field and the birds of the air.
- Has created an amazing ultimate destination for us regardless of what happens here in our lives.
Our hope is not in ourselves or our circumstances, but in the Lord. Recent trials I have faced have helped me learn to trust these truths; they have become realities in my life more than at any other time. Were my trials easy? No they were some of the most painful in my life. Yet God used them to teach me to cry out to Him, to see broken areas in my heart and seek healing. My journey has been filled with tears, agony, realizations, miracles, healing and freedom that has brought about more peace, compassion and joy than I have known since I was a kid.
Interestingly the research regarding developing patience found that meditation, like with compassion, resulted in more patience. Meditation actually enlarges the grey matter areas of the brain that lead to more patience. If we meditate and pray compassionately for the people in our lives, including our enemies, we too can find ourselves leading more patient, peaceful lives.
One of the best ways to raise kids who are patient is to model patience in our lives and in our relationships with them. If we are easily upset by things that go wrong, our kids will feel they need to be perfect and expect the same from us and everyone else. That is a recipe for a lonely life.
If our homes are filled with frustration and/or conflict, there is a good chance that they are missing compassion that leads to patience with imperfection. When we begin to anticipate imperfection and have compassion on those who are broken around us, we offer love rather than correction, judgement or condemnation.
When we begin to meditate and pray with compassion for those who are broken around us, including our enemies, both the Bible and research indicate that we will see our compassion and patience grow.
Why is developing patience so important?
- It will decrease our stress levels and improve our health!
- It will increase our sense of closeness with our spouse and kids.
- It will restore peace and joy to our homes as we experience a greater sense of being loving and loved.
So let’s begin to pray that we see opportunities rather than problems. Look for opportunities to give compassion and patience that cause us to pray and meditate more on the amazing patience and compassion we have received from the Lord. We need to allow the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with love for the brokenness around us.