By J.R. Miller
"May the Lord direct Your hearts into the love of God, and into the patience of Christ." 2 Thessalonians 3:5
This is a blessing which all of us would like to bow our heads to receive. "Patience among the virtues," says one, "is like the pearl among the gems. By its quiet radiance it brightens every human grace and adorns every Christian excellence."
In Christ, patience, like all virtues, had its perfection. And His was not a sheltered life, without such trials of patience as we must endure--but one exposed to all that makes it hard for us to live patiently. Besides, His nature was one that was sensitive to all rudeness and pain--so that He suffered in His contacts with life far more than we do.
Yet His patience was perfect. "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not." He pressed upon them the gifts of love--but they rejected them. Yet He never failed in His loving, never grew impatient, never wearied in His offers of blessings, never withdrew His gracious gifts. He stood with His hands outstretched toward them--until they nailed those hands on the cross! And even then He let drop out of those pierced hands--the gift of redemption!
His patience appears also in His dealings with His own disciples. They were very ignorant and learned slowly. They tried Him at every point by their lack of faith, their lack of spirituality, and their weak, faltering friendship. But He never wearied in His love nor in His teaching.
His patience is seen in His treatment of the people who pressed about Him wherever He went, with their begging for healing. We have only to think what an Oriental crowd is, and then remember that it was the very wreckage of misery and wretchedness, that came to Him, to get a thought of the wearisomeness of moving day after day amid the clamors and cries of these poor sufferers. Yet He never showed the slightest impatience--but gave out freely and lovingly of the richest and best of His own precious life to heal and comfort them.
His patience with His enemies is also astonishing. It was not the patience of weakness, for at any moment He might have summoned legions of angels from heaven to strike down His opponents. Nor was it the patience of stoicism, that did not feel the stings of hate and persecution; for never was there another life on earth that felt so keenly the hurts of enmity. Nor was it the patience of sullenness, such as is sometimes seen in savages, who bear torture in grim, haughty silence.
Never did the world see any other patience, so loving. He prayed for His murderers! He gave back the most gentle answers--to the most cruel words. His response to the world's enmity--was the gift of salvation. From the cruel wounds made by nail and spear--came the blood of human redemption!
We see His patience also in His work. He saw very few results from His preaching. He was a sower, not a reaper. Multitudes flocked after Him, heard His words, and went away unimpressed.
Thus to whatever phase of Christ's wonderful life we turn--we see sublime patience. He was patient in accepting His Father's will; patient toward the world's sin and sorrow; patient with men's unreasonableness, unkindness and hatred; patient with ignorance and prejudice; patient in suffering wrong. Marvelous, indeed, is this quality in our Lord's life. Who is not ready to turn the blessing, into the prayer, "Lord, direct my heart into the patience of Christ."
We all need patience. Without it we never really can make anything of our lives. We need it in our homes. The very closeness and familiarity of the family members within our own doors--make it hard at times for us to preserve perfect sweetness of spirit. There is much lack of patience, in most earthly families. We throw off our reserve and our carefulness, and are apt to speak or act disagreeably. It is easy in the friction that too often is felt in our homes--to lose our patience and speak unadvisedly and unkindly. Such impatient words hurt gentle hearts, sometimes irreparably. But wherever else we may fail in patience--it should not be in our own homes! Only the sweetest life should be lived there. We have not long to stay together--and we should be patient and gentle while we may!
We need the patience of Christ also, in our mingling with others, in our business associations and contacts, in our social relations, and in all our dealings with our neighbors. Not all people are congenial and patient to us. Some want their own way. Some are unreasonable. Some fail to treat us right. Possibly in some cases--the fault may be ours, at least in part. Others may sometimes think of us--as we do of them. However this may be, the patience of Christ may teach us to bear with even the most unreasonable people, sweetly and lovingly. He was patient with everyone, and we are to be like Him. If we are impatient with anyone, we fail to he true to the interest of our Master, whom we are always to represent.
We need the patience of Christ in meeting the trials of life. We need only remember how sweetly He endured all wrongs, all pain and suffering--to get a vision of a very beautiful ideal of life to follow. The lesson is hard to learn--but the Lord can direct our hearts even into this gentleness of spirit. He can help us to be silent in the time of distress. He can turn our cry of pain--into a song of submission and joy. He can give us His steadfast peace, so that even in the wildest strife--our heart shall be quiet.
We need the patience of Christ--to prepare us for His service. The moment we enter the company of His disciples, He gives us work to do for Him. We are sent to find other souls, to bind up broken hearts, to comfort sorrow, to help lost ones find home through the gloom. All this work is delicate and important, and for it we need the patience as well as the gentleness of Christ. It must be done lovingly, in faith, unhurriedly, under the Spirit's guidance.
Mothers need the lesson of patience, that they may wisely teach and train their children, and not hurt their lives by impatience. All who are dealing with the ignorant need it. Those who would put their hands in any way on other lives--need a large measure of the patience of Christ. We must seek to do Christ's work for them--as He would do it if He were here--with those gentle hands of His. We need His patience also in waiting, as we work for God. We are in danger continually, in our very interest in others, of speaking inopportunely. Even eager, loving words--must wait for the perfect time for speaking them, or else they may do harm. Even in our hunger--we must not pluck the fruit while it is yet unripe.