Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.
Mr. Websters defines patience as "the ability to wait or endure without complaint. It usually involves the bearing of suffering, provocation, delay, tediousness, etc. without complaining or losing self-control." We have many opportunities to practice patience:
v When we are late to work and find ourselves behind a school bus on a two lane road
v When you are waiting in line to buy gas and the person in front is buying lottery tickets
v When you are ready to leave but your spouse or child is not
v When you await the results of your SAT score
v When you await the phone call from the person who interviewed you for a new job
v When you sit by the bedside of one who is dying
v When you sit in the parking lot in your car after an Orioles or Ravens game
v When the beltway is backed up due to an accident
v When your body is recovering or gaining strength from an accident or sickness
v When you are ready to lay down letters for a seven letter word in Scrabble, but it's not your turn
Most people, including me, struggle with patience. But as a follower of Jesus, I remind myself of this truth, "I am eternal." Can eternal people rush? Do eternal people get anxious about time? An eternal person might not like the problem they are facing, such as a traffic accident, dying person, etc., but since an eternal person lives thoroughly in the present, what is a little delay. An eternal person can thoroughly live in the present moment even if there is some suffering of some sort.
The apostle Paul described God to a young pastor as one who has "unlimited patience" (2 Tim. 1:16). How could God not be patient? He is eternal. Thus, childless Sarah waited until she was 90 to give birth to a son promised by God to Abraham 25 years earlier. Abraham's descendants waited over 400 years until they received the Promised Land.
God's timing is so different than our timing. The reason? God is eternal, and we forget we are also. We get ourselves "worked up" and frustrated if something doesn't happen "in time," though we have all the time "in the world." The whole reason we have hope in Jesus is God's patience, "the Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2 Pet. 3:9 NIV).
So here is my challenge: chill out! Pay forward the patience God has given you. As you wait in a line and start becoming irritated, remember, you are eternal. You are timeless. Allow the eternal Spirit to direct your thoughts.