Series: Seasonal Attitudes To Have All Year Long
We have been looking at seasonal attitudes to have all year long. First, there’s contentment, which is vital in a season where overspending is easy to do. Second, we looked at being thankful, especially how it can be a catalyst to our spiritual growth. Then we saw that an attitude of peace was critical to reducing stress during the holidays. Briefly, we looked at gentleness, especially important because many people who have suffered loss feel that loss most during the holidays and may need a gentle touch.
Now, we take a look at patience. Why patience? Well, think of kids this time of year. What do they want for Christmas? How long is it until Christmas?
Waiting for presents is not the only, or even the most important, reason we need patience this Christmas season. As we remember Christ’s first coming, we need to dial up the patience as we wait for his second coming. Is he ever going to return? Will there ever be peace on earth? The sad Christmas carol, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” written at the height of the bloody Civil War, laments about this very thing:
And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
Have you ever waited so long for something to happen that you gave up? Once when we were on vacation, we were driving through Missouri on the Interstate when we found ourselves in a traffic jam—there must have been a huge wreck far up ahead. We weaved and bumped a little but eventually settled into the right lane where we crept slowly along. Each minute dragged by like it was an hour.
Tami looked out her window and saw a turtle on the side of the road—it was going faster than we were! Eventually we got near an off-ramp, and since I had given up patience a mile back, I took it. We escaped the Interstate for a nice long rural drive around the traffic jam, but in the end, we spent more time driving around trying to find a way to get where we wanted to go then it would have if we had just stayed in the traffic jam.
Patience is “the capacity to hold out or bear up in the face of difficulty” (BDAG). Patience is more than just waiting; patience is holding up when things are difficult. Patience is more than just holding up when things are difficult—it is holding up when things are difficult without complaining or murmuring.
Waiting for Christ to return, waiting to open presents, waiting in line to buy presents, waiting for the package to be delivered by Fed Ex. The holidays are a prime time for our patience to be tested to the limits. It’s a stressful time for many. We need to be patient with one another and even with strangers and UPS drivers!
How does the gospel teach us and enable us to be patient?
Christian patience is based on the hope that we have for a better future beyond this life. We may nod and agree with that statement, but can being patient for the coming of Jesus Christ really help us be patient with an annoying in-law or church member or a long line at the store? The apostle Paul felt so. In 2 Corinthians chapter 4, we get insight into how he managed to be patient through the greatest of difficulties and problems. In fact, our first lesson from this passage is that…