For you have need of patience, that, after you have done the will of God, you might receive the promise.
The first and most obvious thing which occurs to our minds when we try to call up those things which will make patience needful is positive suffering and pain. Who but those who have actually felt the heavy load of severe bodily pain, protracted day by day, know the bitter and impatient thoughts and feelings which it has power to stir up in our hearts? Which of us can tell how sadly we may need patience before we come to die? But suffering, whether great or small, always tends to make us impatient; and oftentimes those little, insect cares and pains which are of daily and hourly occurrence, and which seem, perhaps, too small and insignificant to need any great exercise of patience to enable us to face them, yet suffice to spur us on to an impatience and fretfulness which are sinful and humiliating. And the very fact, to which experience testifies, that we are even more ready to grow impatient at little troubles than at great ones, because for great troubles a Christian man gathers up his endurance and seeks to receive them submissively as coming by the appointment of God, while little ones he somehow does not think of in connection with the Almighty, and meets them in his own unaided strength — I say this very fact only shows us the more strongly that a very. ordinary lot, with very ordinary trials, may yet furnish a great field for the exercise of patience — patience not the heathen virtue, not the worldly prudence, but the Christian grace. A second case in which patience will be very needful to us all is when our hopes and wishes are deferred, when we have to wait and wait, day after day, week after week, year after year, for some expected good. And how many human beings have to wait away in this fashion the best years of life! How many a human being never gets the thing which he or she has waited for till the power of enjoying it is gone! But surely patience, implanted by God's Spirit, is mightily needed in such a case; for, if it be not given, how often it proves bad for man to linger out these days of expectancy: how often to do so sours the heart, withers up the affections, jaundices the views, turns the fresh hopeful being of youth into the gloomy, solitary, despairing misanthrope of scarcely middle age! Who does not know that in this evil world things almost invariably turn out just in that way which we least wished and hoped? That day is nine times out of ten a rainy one which we especially desired should be fair; any little accident is pretty safe to happen just at the most inconvenient time; any little illness is almost certain to come when we most wished to be well. It is just on the day when you expect an important letter that something goes wrong with the mail train; it is just when the physician is wanted in a case of life and death that of course he is twenty miles away. So we pass to the more practical question, As we need patience so much, how are we to get it? Where does it come from? Now, we reply that patience is a Christian grace, the gift of God, the operation of the Holy Spirit; and it is to be obtained as all Christian graces are, by earnestly praying for it and by patiently striving after it, and by humbly submitting to all those means which the Holy Spirit makes use of to implant it in our hearts. "Tribulation worketh patience," says the Apostle Paul; and how often long-continued affliction is sanctified of God to subdue the soul into a calm submission. We will grant you, indeed, that in working patience the Holy Spirit finds very different kind of material on which His gracious operations must be wrought. It is much easier in some cases than in others to produce what looks like patience. Extremely stupid people often seem remarkably patient; but here, in truth, there is no true patience at all. You would not call a stone patient, let it bear what it might; and why? Because it feels nothing. And the nearer people approach to the insensibility of the stone the less they have of real patience. It is not patience to await composedly the decision of some question which would make another tremble with eagerness if the reason of your composure be that you do not care how the matter goes. Ah, the true patience, which God's Spirit works, and oftentimes by the slow wear of suffering years, is not the dull torpor of a clod, but the sensitive, eager, vehement resistance of a human soul against that to resist which it is by itself utterly unequal. But let us see to it that none of us should fancy that because we find it hard to exercise patience therefore we may be excused seeking to exercise it at all. If any among us feels within himself that impatience is his most easily besetting sin, then let such an one remember that here is his battle-ground; and let us be sure of it, that "the God of patience and consolation" — He who "knoweth our frame," and who has told us how sorely we "have need of patience" — will be ready by His Spirit and His grace to "strengthen us to all patience," to enable us to "possess our souls in patience," to "run with patience the race set before us," "patiently waiting for Christ" and His coming at the last. Oh! if the story be true how one who stands out in the long ages past as the purest and the best of heathens (Socrates) bore still upon his passion-scarred face the traces of storms gone by, after the discipline of years had made him the mildest and most self-subdued; if the tale be true that when one who professed to read men's hearts upon their brow said that the gentle philosopher must be the most irritable of men, that tranquil heathen stayed the derisive laughter of the standers by and the physiognomist's mistake, and exclaimed, "He is right; I was naturally so, but Philosophy has cured me" — oh! if days of self-conflict and self-control could change the swarthy and puny being, with his satyr nature of old still written upon his satyr face, into the very best and gentlest, shall it ever be said that the mighty grace of God and the constant working of a Divine Spirit will not suffice to calm the heats and storms and acerbities of nature, and to work out a loftier than the patience of the philosopher," even the serene, happy "patience of the saints"? May that patience be yours and mine!
(A. K. H. Boyd, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.