The pain was too much to bear. I literally could not bend my leg without feeling the scorching pain in my knee. Without the ability to bend my knee, I had to sit awkwardly, leading to more discomfort in my back. While I held off as long as possible, I knew a trip to the emergency room was imminent. Once I arrived at the hospital, questions were asked, and tests were done. Symptoms were listed, and a diagnosis was made. I had bursitis. A prescription was ordered, and I was encouraged to stay home from work the next day. It was over the course of this health issue I came to terms with a heart issue, my impatience. The Lord was using the pain from the bursitis to correct my impatience.

The irony is that I did not realize I even had a problem with impatience. I looked at my actions, and all seemed to be well. I couldn’t recall having outbursts of anger toward others when things didn’t go my way. I didn’t feel the need to always speak up in the middle of someone else’s conversation. Because I did not blow up or speak up like this, I figured I was okay. Yet, I failed to notice other symptoms that revealed my impatience. I failed to trust God and lacked graciousness toward others. This diagnosis came from God’s Word.

The prescription I received to relieve the bursitis in my knee and the encouragement to stay home to rest did just the trick in healing my body from its pain. It also did the transforming work of teaching me a lesson on patience. Forced to slow down and take the day off from work, the Lord revealed areas where I failed to trust Him. Overextending myself at work for a little more money had my focus on financial deposits, not on my dependence on the Lord. The desire for more control over things in my life revealed a lack of trust in the Lord, who is sovereign over all of it. I had forgotten to apply the truth of Proverbs 3:5-6 to my daily life:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

The day off from work allowed me to reflect on the Word. As I confessed my lack of trust in the Lord, another symptom became visible: a lack of graciousness toward others. In my focus on tasks, I lost sight of why I performed these tasks in the first place – to serve others. When students ask off-topic, thoughtful Bible-based questions at youth group, they don’t keep me from teaching the Bible because I do not merely teach content; I teach people. People are not a means nor a hindrance to my accomplishing tasks; rather, they are the recipients of the task. People need to be recipients of grace more than anything. For many of us, it can be hard to extend graciousness toward others, and it is impossible to do that in our own power. We need the strength of the Lord. There is a reason patience is listed among one of nine characteristics in the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. We need to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit to have patience toward others because patience requires us to consider others before ourselves.

Furthermore, patience requires love. It should be no surprise Scripture connects love with patience for relationships. Consider in 1 Corinthians 13:4, where love is described as patient, or in Ephesians 4:2, where the Apostle Paul says to walk “with patience, bearing with one another in love.” A patient heart is gracious toward others, not bursting out in anger but bearing with one another in love. One of the ways we express our love to one another is not merely by saying it but by showing it through patience. It may mean not interrupting a conversation someone is having with you just because you want to get something off your chest. It may look like repeating yourself for the third or fourth time when someone has not grasped the words you shared with them. It may sound like offering a word of encouragement to a co-worker who has made a mistake on paperwork.

My time as a patient was a refining one. The symptoms of a lack of trust in God and a lack of graciousness toward others led to the diagnosis of impatience. Being down on my knee led me to go down on my knees and find the prescription of God’s Word in the love of Jesus Christ. Because of his love and through his Holy Spirit, I trust the Lord, who is sovereign over all and doing good through it all, as I love those around me by bearing with them in patience.

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