The following is written by Lynell Caudillo of Calvary Presbyterian:
“Lord, please give me patience – right now!”
Have you ever prayed such a prayer? Soon we shall enter into the holiday season, during which life has the potential to become even more hectic and busy than “usual.” Exactly during such times we might benefit from slowing down and savoring the gifts God gives. That, in part, is what Thanksgiving is all about.
Recently, a team of researchers from three universities conducted a study with the unusual title: “Can gratitude reduce impatience?” Adult participants in the study were divided into three groups. All were told they could receive $50 immediately or they could wait 30 days and receive $80. The control group was left to whatever feelings they came in with, while the other two groups were told to write a short paper about a time when they felt either happy or grateful.
The participants who felt either neutral or happy showed a strong preference for immediate payouts – as in “Gimme that 50 bucks now!” But those who were in a grateful frame of mind showed more patience. What’s more, the degree of patience exhibited was directly related to the amount of gratitude any individual felt (reported by Jessica Stillman, “The Cure for Impatience—Gratitude,” Inc. 4-7-14).
I think that is an interesting correlation: gratitude and patience. Biblically, patience is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Patience, then, is an outgrowth of Christ-like character that is made evident in our attitude and behavior.
What would patience look like? A calmness in the midst of a “storm”? A willingness to persevere and “hang in there” during a time of change? Exercising restraint and self-control (another fruit of the Spirit!) when a situation is not to our liking?
As the season of Thanksgiving approaches, we would do well to pause and take time to reflect: What have been the blessings of the day – the week – month – year?
How is my life richer in “intangibles” like patience? Love? Peace? Joy? If those qualities are in short supply, where does one acquire more? They are not sold at the local market or grocery store. (There really are some things that money cannot buy!) But they are more valuable than most tangible items we can purchase.
The source of these all good gifts is the Creator God, the one who loves us and fills us with the Holy Spirit. Then these Christ-like attributes begin to grow in us. They are free but may, indeed, cost us something – our self-centered orientation in life is replaced by a Christ-centered one. So I am no longer the center of my universe, but Christ is. As I step out of the center and allow Christ to be the one calling the shots, I discover great riches as I experience growth in love, joy, peace and patience, which all can lead to a greater sense of gratitude.
Recently a local church had this message on their reader board: “Be Greatful for your blessings!”
While the school teacher in me says “They mean “grateful”! I love the fact that we can indeed, be “full” of gratitude, for the “great” number of blessings that we enjoy.
So, be patient, God isn’t finished with us yet! Meanwhile, be grateful for all God’s gifts, tangible and intangible.