Don’t be Stupid about Patience
Patience is not always good. We’ve all been told that patience is a virtue and impatience is a vice. Not so. Both patience and impatience can be healthy or unhealthy.
Some people are stupid about patience. Don’t be offended by the word stupid. I don’t use the word stupid like we used it on the school playground. I mean it in the original sense of the word. To be stupid is to be so focused on your way that you miss everything else.
“Don’t tell me to be patient.”
If you have a serious, unanswered problem with your health or an important relationship, patiently waiting can be extremely difficult. The one thing you don’t want to hear a minister, family member or friend say is, “Just be patient and leave your problem in God’s hands. Everything will work out for the best.”
Healthy patience is not passive.
Healthy patience is not passively waiting on God. It’s not praying, “Heavenly Father, I am completely depending on you, and I’ll sit and do nothing so you get all the glory when you solve my problem.” That’s irresponsible, unhealthy patience.
Healthy patience both waits and works.
As William Carey, the first missionary to India said, “We should pray as if it is all up to God and work as if it is all up to us.” When we trust God to do his part and work as hard as we can to do our part, we practice healthy patience. It’s much like healthy faith—faith without works is dead.
Impatience can be unhealthy. We can be so self-centered and self-controlling that we don’t allow God to do his work. Impatience can be harmful, hurtful and stupid. God’s word says, “Patience leads to abundant understanding, but impatience leads to stupid mistakes.” Proverbs 14:29
Impatience can be healthy.
We should never be patient with evil. Our impatience is God-like when we won’t put up with evil and suffering. It’s our spiritual duty to be intolerant and impatient with anything that is ungodly. Deciding when or how to challenge evil is not our business. That’s God’s business. Before we turn our holy impatience into holy action, we need to check in and get our marching orders from our Holy Commander and Chief.
Healthy patience or stupid patience?
Too often we get so focused on praying about out problem that we don’t do all our heavenly Father wants us to do to help solve the problem. At other times we concentrate so much on our own ideas and activities to right wrong that we don’t trust God and give him time to do his work in his time. Do you have a balanced patience or stupid patience?