Patience is often referred to as something that can be lost – as in “you are really causing me to lose my patience.” But how would it sound if you were to say “you are really causing me to lose my love for you?” Those words would be devastating to hear. You see, love is intimately defined as patient by the Holy Spirit. So if love is patient, then “losing” patience can be equated to losing love. In other words, it is impossible to truly love without being patient. Said this way the idea of losing patience is not a pretty one.
A working definition of patience is living in the expectation of God’s care. This means living each day knowing that God is loving you and will care for you regardless of your immediate circumstance. Patience is part of the Spirit’s fruit. Patience is the opposite of frustration. Patience is a sure belief that God will not abandon you. No matter what the circumstance, God’s love and care for you are never in doubt. Patience, like the other gifts of the Holy Spirit’s fruit, is always available. The Spirit’s fruit of patience can never be lost, only ignored.
Both toddlers and teenagers are equally adept at calling for patience to be deployed. You see love is not just a mindset, but a particular action that God commands us to take. Biblical love is not a natural thing. We can naturally love ice cream. We cannot naturally be patient. Biblical patience is a fruit of the Spirit. It cannot be modeled by sitting on a rocker on the front porch. It is modeled by a deep abiding trust that God will care for me as I seek to be a faithful parent.
Patience means that my failures as a parent never cancel out the commitment of Jesus Christ to love me and care for me. Your story as a parent is a continuing narrative. The final chapters are not yet written.
So, when Paul describes what love is he begins with patience. Any specific situation we face in raising our children can be challenging and overwhelming. The first step to addressing the problem with love is to believe that God will care for you. You can believe that God has wisdom in his word that will exactly fit the situation at hand. You can trust God as you cry out to him for help. You can love with patience!