“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.” (Stormie Omartian)
Deep down, we know that waiting and having patience is a good thing. But just because something is good for us, it doesn’t mean that we want it. That’s especially true when, in order to develop patience, it means we’ll be involved in long-term, character testing, faith-walking, endurance-stretching waiting. Not too many of us want to do that just because it’s “good” for us!
On this subject, we came across some things on the importance of patience, which Stormie Omartian wrote in a past issue of Marriage Partnership Magazine (no longer being published), that we’d like to present to you. Plus, we’ll add a few statements of our own. Please read, glean through, and apply what God personally shows you. Stormie writes:
“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 ‘long-suffering’ (Galatians 5:22), a word that, according to Webster’s dictionary, means ‘long and patient enduring of trouble, or provocation.’
“Can you think of a marriage that doesn’t require ‘long-suffering’? 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.”
As I read this example that Stormie wrote, I thought, How’s that working for him? Not too good apparently! It’s not good for him, or for her, or for their relationship. Somehow, they need to work on this “problem” at a time (or times) when there’s less pressure going on, to figure out what they can do together so the waiting game is resolved in a healthier way.
As Cindy and I have struggled A LOT in this area in our 40 years of marriage and as I look back and reflect on it now, I realize that we have grown and improved considerably —though we haven’t “arrived” yet, for sure. I also think that God uses every situation in our marriage as an opportunity for both of us to grow spiritually, as well as relationally with one another.
In Stormie Omartian’s article, The Power of Patience, she further points out that
“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.”
I (Cindy) need to say here that the waiting dilemma can be a tough one. There may be a million and one reasons both spouses can give as to why one spouse is late and the other is left waiting. The spouse who runs late may need to be more considerate of others (including the waiting spouse) and time-conscious, or better time-management may come into the picture for one or both of them, or the waiting spouse may need to be more “helpful” beforehand so BOTH spouses can be ready at the same time… the list can go on and on. If you’re involved in this frustrating “dance”, I’m sure you have your own take on this dilemma.
No matter what though, as Steve said, everything that happens is an opportunity for growth in us —as individuals and as a couple. Stormie Omartian goes on to write:
“Paul makes it clear that not only are we supposed to desire patience, we’re to pursue it (1 Timothy 6:11). If you’re like me, the thought of pursuing patience doesn’t bring forth shouts of joy and excitement! But when we chase patience, it pleases God. Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:1-2: ‘I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.’ So how do we pursue patience?
“PRAY. One way is to ask God for it. Prayer has an amazing way of helping us become more patient. Let’s be honest, though, prayer is about the last thing we feel like doing when our patience is being tested, isn’t it? But we can pray about whatever is causing us to be impatient. For example, my friend can pray for his wife who’s always late and ask God how he can help her be on time. Maybe she’s overloaded with too much to do. Or she tries to fit too much into a day. Or she’s trying to be perfect. On the flip side, she can ask God to help her be better organized, or have a clearer concept of time and how much of it is needed to accomplish all she needs to do.
“Whatever the case, remember that each prayer, even when it seems to be about the same old thing, has new life in it each time you pray it. Prayer sets something in motion, even your spouse —though that may not seem immediately detectable.”
Stormie goes on to write other ways to pursue patience, such as making “a mental adjustment,” being “thankful,” keeping “quiet,” when it would be best, and “don’t give up” (which you can read about in its entirety in the Today’s Christian Woman article, Power of Patience. Perhaps you could even post a comment below this article to encourage others in this area of marriage, and/or post a prayer request on the Prayer Wall on the Home Page.
In conclusion, please consider the following thoughts, which Stormie Omartian gives on an added benefit you can gain while waiting:
“Grow your faith. Patience means working on growing deeper in your relationship with God, especially when it appears that the only thing growing deeper in your life is the divide between you and your mate. Patience means remembering that it could be worse [except in cases of abuse], and deliberately looking for the good in the other person.
“Patience means expressing the positive when you want to point out the negative. It’s deciding to overlook some irritating things and, instead, think about the eternal future set before you. This means knowing that because you didn’t divorce when you considered it, but determined to be patient instead, your whole family can now celebrate holidays and birthdays and life together.
“The most important reason of all to pursue patience is that it’s one of God’s attributes. When we’re patient, we’re more like him. The apostle James writes that the testing of our faith produces patience, and patience perfects us and makes us complete so that we lack nothing (James 1:2-4). So each time you find yourself in a situation where you have to make yourself pursue patience, try to think about how perfect and godlike you’re becoming. It really helps.”
We sincerely hope this message ministers to your hearts and to your marriage.
Steve and Cindy Wright