“Love is patient … ” 1 Corinthians 13:4a
Love takes time. It does not have an expiration date; love simply, patiently perseveres! That word “patient” in 1 Corinthians stops me in my tracks. The original Greek word means “willing to suffer long.” I don’t like to suffer for a short time, let alone a long time. Yet that is an aspect of love, and if I want to claim the promise that love never fails, I must understand that love will not be hurried.
In a world of microwave meals, easy credit and text messaging, “hurry up” is our way of life. Waiting for anything is unacceptable. Delayed gratification is an archaic idea. It is a disappearing attribute that needs to be restored to our lives. We need to practice patience, because love drowns when we condense it into texts and good intentions.
So how do we restore value to waiting, to suffering long? I shamefully confess: I want results—now. Whether I teach, counsel or diet, I want to see significant progress from day one. That is seldom my reality, because it is such an unreasonable expectation. The value of patience lies hidden in the realities of life.
Lessons that involve hours of study and years of acquired knowledge simply cannot be delivered and absorbed in thirty minutes. If they could, it would not have taken hours of preparation and years of acquisition to know the content! We are all learners gaining ground, those who teach and those who learn. Progress is incremental and collective.
Ministering reveals the same reality. Immediate healing for hurting hearts is rare at best. Seeds are planted as we minister that develop into flourishing, life-giving plants that then produce more seeds. That is divine design. Love demands and develops faith; faith produces results in due time!
Lately, my weight has been teaching me about the value of patience–of suffering long. I tend to ignore creeping pounds for a bit. When I finally decide to do something about them, I expect the scales to return to my preference with a few days. Obviously, that does not happen. What I hear God saying is this: “In my love, I wait for you all the time. I want you not to fill up on this world, but to stay a little hungry for me. Using food as your comfort and contentment robs you of health. Be willing to suffer long because you love and trust me—and you will see fruit in other areas of your life.”
As I wait (aka suffer long) for the number on the scale to drop, I realize that my unwillingness to suffer long—my impatience—has implications in many other parts of my life. Impatience keeps me from whole-hearted surrender to my Lord. It reveals things I value more than His will. It keeps me from the best that God—in His love–desires for me. He allows me to suffer that I might make progress in many ways. I am thankful my weight is not budging, because I want to wait for the full picture of patience’s value.
What has taught you about the value of patience?