"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds." -James 1:2 (ESV)
Numerous times, I have heard the phrase, "Never pray for patience." This is advice given in order to help us avoid trials. Knowing that praying for patience does brings tests of faith and hardships, I have payed careful attention for several years to never pray for patience. In fact, made it a point to never pray for patience. However, is this the attitude that a true child of Christ should have?
The other day, as I was doing my memory work in the book of James, I was reviewing some of the verses I hadn't gone over in a while. Some of the verses in chapter one stuck out to me in a way that they never had before. Verses 2-5 say, "Count it all joy my brothers when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God the Father, who gives generously to all without reproach. And it will be given him." Now I understand that this is speaking of wisdom, but then I thought about patience, and the trials that come when striving for it. Are we not blessed when we go through these trials as well? And will they not be but less than a fraction of a second in comparison to eternity? Is it really worth it to risk not having the patience in order to go to heaven, in order to avoid small trials here on earth? How much worse would it be if we went to hell because we never had enough patience to handle things here on earth?
Whenever you're giving a list to someone, the very first thing you tell them is usually a very important thing, correct? Well if you turn with me to a passage likely very familiar to you, in 1 Corinthians 13, we are given a list on what love is. The list begins in verse 4, when we are told that love is patient. How easy is it when we maybe don't like a particular person, that we can easily become impatient with them? When we truly love someone, we are far more willing to be patient with them. So when we ask for more love, but we don't ask for more patience, what are we doing? How can you have more love but not more patience? When we don't pray for patience, but we pray for love we are contradicting ourselves! We are also telling God, "I have enough patience. But not enough love." Can you do that? Is it possible to have enough of a certain quality? When we intentionally don't pray for something, is that the heart of a true servant of Christ? How can we refuse to pray and then go around pretending that we're followers of Christ? As Christians, we need to strive for love, and in doing so, strive for patience. How can we love God if we don't love others? "Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love." (1 John 4:8)
Not only are we refusing to be more like Christ, and we are rejecting a gift of loving more whenever we don't pray for patience, but we are also being prideful. Whenever Christ died on the cross, that was a pretty rough time. Why do we feel that while Christ died a gruesome death for us, we can't handle going through a rough couple of days? Why do we feel that Christ can suffer for our sake, but we can't suffer for His? "He must increase, but I must decrease." according to John 3:30. How continue to sin by lacking patience, and then thank God for sending Christ to die for our sins?
Today, I would like to encourage you to, if you don't already, pray for patience. Please don't think that you're better off not praying for it. There's always room for improvement, and even though we could never be perfect, we can always strive for it. Don't be too proud to pray for an improvement, and remember that no matter what the hard time is, it will always pay off when we all gather together in heaven.