In the movie “Grand Torino,” Clint Eastwood stars and plays a bigoted widower. Except for the language, it’s a powerful movie. The priest in that movie is a marvelous example of patience. He relentlessly pursues this bigoted widower only to be rebuffed time and time again. The priest is insulted, has the door slammed in his face, but he continues his pursuit to the end of the movie.
As I said, he is a notable example of patience.
Patience, however, is not one of our more popular virtues. As a matter of fact, most of us hate to wait. We use our cellphones, text messages, emails and fax machines for quicker communication. We speed read our books and look for the “instants” in the grocery stores. Then, of course, we eat out meals at fast food restaurants.
Without doubt, our favorite word is “now,” and we often back that up with our temper tantrums.
So, in a fast-paced world, why should we be patient?
Initially, we should be patient because God is patient. The writers of the Bible are unanimous in their conviction that one of the crowning attributes of God is His patience. Patience is of God.
It has been 2,000 years since Jesus came. Might we not have expected that a little more progress would have been made in terms of the kingdom — in 2,000 years? But all the time God has been and continues to be waiting and working, waiting and working, waiting and working,
With infinite patience, God waits. Why? God waits because God’s patience is rooted in His love. And God’s love is manifested in God’s long suffering toward us.
The writer of ll Peter states, “The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance,” (ll Peter 3:9).
Really now, where would we be if it were not for the long suffering patience of God in dealing with us difficult human beings?
Second, we should be patient because we sometimes make terrible mistakes when we get in a hurry.
Let me ask you a question. How many marriages have ended with sad conclusions because the people involved were too impatient to work things out?
I read that there are three things to avoid like the plague in marriage: don’t be crabby, don’t be critical and don’t be controlling. I want to add a fourth thing to be avoided like the plague: Don’t be impatient.
And then there is our impatience with traffic lights. This impatience is causing multiple injuries and even deaths. I could go on but you get the point. Sometimes we make terrible mistakes when we get in a hurry.
Third, we should be patient because we are called to love. The Apostle Paul says, “Love is patient,” (l Corinthians 13:4).
As someone observed, “Patience is the powerful capacity of selfless love to suffer long under adversity.” Better still, patience is the capacity to take a long time to boil over.
A family therapist named Paul Faulkner tells about a man who set out to adopt a troubled teenage girl. One could question the father’s logic. The girl was destructive, disobedient and dishonest.
One day she came home from school and ransacked the house looking for money. By the time he arrived, she was gone and the house was in shambles.
Upon hearing of her actions, friends urged him not to finalize the adoption. “Let her go,” they said, “after all, she’s not your daughter.”
His response was simple, “Yes, I know, but I told her she was.” Love is patient.
In closing, how can we become more patient? Leonardo da Vinci was asked why he had long periods of inactivity while he was painting “The Last Supper.” He said that when he paused the longest, it was then that he made the most telling strokes with his brush.
The same is true for us. We require quiet intervals if we are to win the battle with our impatience.
Patience, then, is of God and is one of our greatest gifts to God and to others.