A Call to Patience

Christ is intent on growing his character in us, establishing his likeness in us.  But I notice a significant difference between Christ and me in the area of patience.  Christ was never in a hurry.  I, on the other hand, often struggle with what has been described as “hurry sickness” or “time urgency.” 

According to an article in healthline.com, “Hurry sickness can show up as a driving need to make the most of every second…. Signs might include:

  • Speeding, both in your car and through conversations, the grocery store, or meals
  • Rushing through work tasks and household chores, to the point where you sometimes make mistakes and have to do them again
  • Frequently performing time calculations in your head to see whether you can fit in another task
  • Feeling irritable when you face delays
  • Constantly trying to find ways to save time
  • Endlessly running through your to-do list in your head to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything

“Hurry sickness frequently involves an undercurrent of anxiety.  Perhaps stress and worry creep up when you think of everything you have to do…. Living with anxiety always simmering on the back burner generally doesn’t feel very pleasant.  This anxiety presses you to keep moving, to keep doing, to attach more urgency to your to-do list than it requires.” 

No wonder James 5 puts such emphasis on God’s call to us to be patient.  In verses 7, we are commanded, “Be patient.”  Then we are reminded of how important it is for a farmer to be patient while waiting for his “precious crop.”  In verse 8, we are commanded again, “You also must be patient.”  In verses 10-11 we are instructed to look at the model of endurance set by the prophets and by Job. 

James wants us to know that growing in the likeness of Christ will always involve growing in patience.  Mark Buchanan puts it succinctly, “Waiting is one of God’s primary means for becoming like Jesus.”

Why does God want us to grow in the virtue of patience?  Leonardo da Vinci shares one important reason why: “Patience serves as a protection against wrongs as clothes do against cold.  For if you put on more clothes as the cold increases, it will have no power to hurt you.  So in like manner you must grow in patience when you meet with great wrongs, and they will then be powerless to vex your mind.”

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