We are in our fourth sermon of our series Peeled, a series on the fruit of the Spirit. In this series, we are deep diving into each of the fruits of the Spirit of our own lives to see if they are sweet or sour and to discover how we can produce sweet fruit for the kingdom of God.
This week we talked about patience. We live in quite an impatient society in the United States. We live in an age of mobile restaurant apps so that we don’t have to wait in line and an age where answers to all the world’s questions are found at the click of a button on Google- and yet we get frustrated when it takes more than five seconds to load the webpage. But this struggle with patience is not just a modern day struggle, people throughout scripture struggled with it too. Adam and Eve impatiently ate the fruit in the Garden of Eden- wanting to be like God, Sarah impatiently gave her servant Hagar to Abraham to conceive a child for her, and the Israelites impatiently grumbled against God in the wilderness. Lack of patience is a lack of faith issue. We try to force God to move at our speed, rather than us moving at God’s speed.
Yet, Paul in his letter to the Galatians and James in his letter both urge readers to cultivate patience. James 5:7-11 gives us three images of patience. The first is that of a farmer planting seed and then waiting for the rain to come, trusting that the rain and sun will come and these seeds will grow and produce fruit. The second is that of the prophets. God gave the prophets of the Hebrew Bible a word to speak, oftentimes to a group of people that did not want to hear it. God often told the prophets to tell the Israelites to repent and turn from their sinful ways and back to God. Because of the challenging word they preached, the prophets endured persecution, yet they still patiently persevered in preaching the word God called them to preach. The third image is that of Job. Job is a wealthy, godly man who loses almost everything he held dear to him. In the midst of this trial, he endured and kept trusting God, never completely losing his faith. Another example of patience in scripture is Jesus, as he was patient with the disciples and patiently endured suffering and crucifixion.
Patience is the ability to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. Patience matters because when we are patient, we are good witnesses to Christ. Patience is not a passive waiting, it is active. Waiting is not wasted time. The farmer, prophets, and Job were not sitting around doing nothing, they patiently kept enduring, trusting God throughout the journey. The key to patience is trusting that God is at work, even when we think God has forgotten us. How can we nurture patience in our lives? First, we must open ourselves up to the Holy Spirit in prayer to give us patience. Second, we must remember, as St. Teresa of Avila states, “Patience is presence in the waiting.” It is choosing to be actively present in the moment of waiting. Instead of getting angry or impatient with a situation, it is choosing to take notice of the blessing of the present moment and perhaps choosing to pray for that person or situation as you wait. Patience is a fruit of the Holy Spirit that is actively present in the waiting.
Monday- James 5:7-11
Tuesday- Psalm 27:1-14
Wednesday- Isaiah 40:21-31
Thursday- Romans 8:18-30
Questions to Consider or Discuss:
1. Is the fruit of patience sweet or sour in your life? How so?
2. What does the quote “Patience is presence in the waiting” mean to you? How can you apply that quote to your life?