Many times in my life I have found that doing nothing (a form of patience) is exactly the right thing to do.
Here is one example. Before we moved to Greensboro in 2003, we lived in the small village of Fincastle, Va., for 11 years. During that time, we built a house on an empty lot. The couple next door was not used to having a neighbor, and our presence was very upsetting to them. For the first few years, they tried to cause us all sorts of problems and were very unfriendly. But over time we stayed the course, never retaliated, and I think in the end we wore them down. Well before the time we moved away, we were on friendly speaking terms. We just had to endure those few years and be patient, and then things got better.
I had an uncle in Tennessee who I could not stand. He was arrogant, loud, and sarcastic. He was the husband of my father’s sister, and we all adored her. But by the time he reached his late 50s, he had changed. He was softer, gentler, and understanding. Something profoundly wonderful had happened to him. He had discovered humility in his life, and it turned him into a very appealing person.
To be patient is to wait and see what might happen. In a spiritual sense, it is waiting to see what God will do with the situation. It is an affirmation of faith in the power of transformation, change for the better, spiritual growth or healing.
Patience is a form of humility. It is a way of saying, “I don’t really fully understand what is going on. It may take time to figure it out. I may never figure it out. Most likely I don’t have the full picture. I don’t really know what this person is going through or why he behaves this way. Rather than be angry or impatient, I will wait and see.”
Almighty God, your Holy Scriptures tell us time and time again that you are slow to anger with us. Help us to be the same with others and to be patient with others as you are patient with us. Amen.