In this microwave, instantaneous information, fast-paced, immediate gratification, one-swipe quick as a flash, touch of a button, split-second, up to the minute, ready to heat and serve, drive through convenience world we live in, how often do we try to fit eternal biblical concepts into our “I need it yesterday–right here and now” lives? Spiritual character development we recognize as very valuable, but couldn’t we just quickly run in and pick it up like a bag of apples in the produce department in Wal-Mart? We wouldn’t even be there long. In and out—quick as a wink, right? We could enjoy it with so little time and cost to ourselves. But as effortlessly simple as that sounds, God in His timeless wisdom knew that spiritual progress and maturity in the heart of a Christian is likened to growing the fruit produced by the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:22-23). And yet, in all that encompasses that Spirit- produced fruit, there is one aspect that is, in a sense, also required to grow it: patience. As witnessed in the physical world, the time and effort taken once the seed begins to sprout, to fertilize, water, mulch, stake and prune are essential for there to be any valuable produce to harvest.
Especially in the midst of suffering through tests and trials are we anxious to achieve patience. But in reality, those challenges are the very things which help us taste the fruit of the Spirit in abundance (Romans 5:3-5).
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4 (NKJV)
There is no need to go looking for the “various trials” as life will supply them in abundance before we acquire many years. But what can we do to cultivate our hearts for patience to take root, sprout and grow there?
Everything has a season.Wait on the Lord (Psalm 27:14). My timing is not His timing. God has not stopped loving me or desiring for me to draw closer to Him (II Peter 3:8-9). Just because there is not an instantaneous end to my suffering or immediate copious amounts of patience giving me ease through the tests and trials, does not mean that God is not listening and working out His will to what is best for my soul (Romans 8:28). God has promised to give us what we need to get through the challenges (Philippians 4:19). So the question is not how long, but how can I see the contentment and joy God offers through this?
Be willing to get your hands dirty.Work while you wait (Galatians 6:9). Patience is not a completely passive act. Even in limitations due to the storms of life, we can still seek opportunities to work for the Lord. Especially those trying to make their way to the other side of depression, reaching out to offer a “cup of cold water” although we may not feel like it, brings blessings to both parties. Joshua endured forty years of wandering in the wilderness due to no fault of his own. And yet instead of becoming bitter, isolating himself or taking off for Canaan on his own, Joshua was working as Moses’ assistant during all those many years (Exodus 24:13, Deuteronomy 3:28). What can I do to serve God while He is working?
Position to face the sun. Praise God (Psalm 146)! It may be a challenge to praise God when in the midst of pain, but like David throughout the Psalms, we too can extol God’s magnificent qualities exalting and giving Him honor. Focusing on the Lord’s trustworthiness, steadfast love and ultimate salvation can keep the situation in perspective helping us to endure. If the weight is heavy and it is difficult to find the words to offer up praise, go through the Psalms using inspired passages to be your praise of God, as well. Even a constant reminder of the simple phrase “God is good” can be a start. How can I use my words to glorify the Lord?
Water frequently. Ask for wisdom (James 1:5). Continue to pray. The One who provides the rain and sunshine on all alike will pour forth wisdom to His children when they ask in faith. Don’t forget to ask others to go to the Father on your behalf also. How much of the time am I asking for the difficulty to be removed? Requesting strength, courage and a greater dependency on God may better equip me to grow that precious fruit.
Mulch to hold in the moisture. Be thankful (Psalm 106:1, Philippians 4:6-7). There is always something for which you can be thankful. Some days it may be harder to find than others. Sometimes just thanking God for surviving five minute increments at a time may be all you can think of at the moment. Whatever trial you might be experiencing write it down. Keep a running list not of the difficulties associated with it, but the things for which you can be grateful to God while you are going through them. It can help calm our hearts so that we can find joy in those tribulations. What can I find right now for which to be thankful?
Anticipate and look for the fruit. Keep in mind the end result (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus was able to endure the shame of the cross because of the value of the joy that was set before Him. Longsuffering through a difficult ordeal is only possible when we can see the value of it all. This is the challenge of developing patience. Where will I be spiritually on the other side of this test?
Uproot the weeds. Watch for sin that attempts to “solve” the situation for God, excuse impatience, or allows the root of despair and bitterness to rise up. When our focus is how God needs to change our circumstances or change someone else instead of how I can improve in character to be more like Him, that is usually a red flag that my plant needs some pruning. Is there anything in my own character which may be impeding the growth of patience in my heart?
Keep the soil healthy. Inundate the soil of our hearts with the nutrients and minerals so the seed can continue to grow healthy sweet fruit. As God provides the plants, flowers and trees with everything they need to bear fruit, He does the same for our souls. Constant contact with God’s word allows our hearts to continue desiring the strength to endure (Romans 15:4). Directing our minds to the truth about patience, worry and the victory we can experience brings us hope, helping us see the joy set before us (I Peter 1:13 ESV) Below are just a few of verses that can effect changes in our hearts helping to produce not home grown fruit, but sweet Heavenly heart grown fruit.
Click here for the August Divine percolations printable. It is the following scriptures and directives in a convenient printable format.
James 1:2-4 (NKJV)
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
I can rejoice in the good that will be produced in my Christian character as God helps me develop calm forbearance after the likeness of my Heavenly Father. I lean on Him through every step of the trials I face.
James 5:10-11 (NKJV)
“My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.”
I am emboldened to be patiently resolute in facing difficulties that try me knowing I am in good company. I am humbly thankful for the many kindesses of the Lord that provide even more than what I need.
Romans 5:3-5 (ESV)
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
I do not try to ignore or avoid this formidable challenge because I know the outcome will carry a blessing of fortitude and hope. I praise God for His great love and care to see me through.
Hebrews 12:1 (NKJV)
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us”
I feel strengthened to patiently withstand these challenges being cheered on and comforted by all those who have weathered their own tests, had success and gained the reward.
Hebrews 12:2 (ESV)
“looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Since Jesus paved the way for me to bear these trials, I too, quietly endure encouraged by the blessings He provides in His time and His way.
Galatians 6:9 (ESV)
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap,if we do not give up.”
When I am tempted to become dispirited and weighed down, I lift up my eyes to see Christ in Heaven where I want to be one day. My heart is renewed and joyfully I continue on for Him.
Romans 2:7 (NKJV)
“eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality”
I persist in doing what I can for the Lord and praising His name while I manuever through these trials. I am so pleased and delighted by the blessings that come from the privilege of working in His Kingdom.
By Cheri Deaver
Cheri is wife to Weylan Deaver who preaches at the Sherman Drive Church of Christ in Denton, Texas. She is mother to Orrin, Lacey, Lexie and Ethan, as well as a new mother-in-law to Aubrie Deaver. She is blessed beyond measure for which God has so richly provided.