Patience. The very word can cause us to roll our eyes. That's because when we think of patience, we think of waiting. And we don't like to wait.
But it seems as though we're always waiting for something. Waiting for a certain thing to happen, for one thing to begin, and another to end. Waiting for more time or more money. Waiting for our marriage to get better, or for our spouse to change. Waiting for the kids to grow up. Waiting for our prayers to be answered.
Waiting can be painful and difficult—especially when it comes to our need for change in marriage.
But God says that waiting is good. That's because it produces patience in us.
The apostle Paul tells us that patience is one of the fruits of the Spirit—in other words, patience is a byproduct of God's work within us. He describes it as "longsuffering" (Galatians 5:22, NKJV), a word that, according to Webster's dictionary, means "long and patient enduring of injury, trouble, or provocation." Can you think of a marriage that doesn't require a certain amount of "longsuffering"?
But how long are we willing to suffer provocation? How patient are we when we most need to be?
The truth is, we can't have patience without the waiting. But just because we're waiting doesn't necessarily mean we have patience. It's how we wait in marriage that's most important. Do we wait with a good attitude?
I know a couple in which the husband is always on time and his wife frequently runs late. When he taps his fingers loudly, grows angry, and paces anxiously while spewing stinging barbs, he doesn't practice patience! He's waiting, yes. But it's forced waiting, and it never accomplishes what he hopes it will. Neither does silently fuming. Patience and a good attitude go hand in hand. Patience is deciding that his mate is worth the wait and doing it calmly. On the other hand, his wife, who runs perpetually late, needs to show patience with her husband's various expressions of impatience.1