Thursday, August 8, 2013

Patience for Our Patients

Patience is fourth in the line of spiritual fruit listed by Paul in Galatians that is supposed to characterize believers in Christ (Galatians 5:22-23). How much more should we, who have this high calling to serve those who are sick and impoverished, continue to demonstrate patience to those in our care? 

Throughout my life I have noticed how my attitude affects my actions. When I have a good attitude, it is easy for me to be joyful, caring and compassionate. If, however, I allow myself to forget why I am here and what my purpose is (to serve others as unto the Lord), then I find that thoughts of impatience have an opportunity to creep into my mind. Although I aim to never show these emotions, they are sometimes very much there. The question is how to deal with them when they happen. 

The word of God again provides the answer. "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Our minds are truly a battlefield for the war between good and evil desires in our person (Romans 7:21-25; Romans 8:5-13). When I find myself thinking impatient thoughts, such as “Would this car get up the road already?!”, I have an opportunity to put in practice the virtue of patience.

Thankfully, we are not alone in our battle against evil (Romans 8:27; 2 Peter 1:3). We have many weapons of warfare at our disposal (Ephesians 6). We have the divine power of Christ in us (2 Corinthians 10:4-5), and we have the Word He has given us (Ephesians 6:17).

When I was younger, my mom taught me to pray a simple prayer whenever a wrong thought came into my head, and ever since then I have used it clear my mind of unwelcome thoughts. When I realize I am thinking about something that I shouldn’t, I pray “Lord, I ask that you would take captive this thought and make it obedient to You.” A wise person once said, you can’t help what birds fly over your head, but you can keep them from making a nest in your hair. In other words, you can’t always help what comes into your brain, but you can help what you meditate on (Philippians 4:8).

Let us commit to turning our negative thoughts into prayers. When we are beginning to feel impatient—with our patients, our coworkers, our friends, or even our family members—let’s take the opportunity to turn our frustration into prayer—for God’s grace for ourselves and His blessing for them.

Patience isn’t easy. And I have by no means mastered it. In fact, I am writing this out of a realization of how much I need to grow in this area. Since we are weak and imperfect creatures, let us remember God’s promise: “…My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness…” (2 Corinthians 12:9a).

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