Consider with us the patience of a winemaker.
He oversees the vineyard, monitoring it’s quality and growth, guarding against pests and inclement weather to the best of his ability. Next comes the harvest – he determines when to pick the fruit, a very important aspect in the process. Then comes the time to press the wine extracting all the juice of the season. Sometimes the skins are left in the vats, sometimes the skins are removed. Once all the growing and harvesting work is complete the most important step occurs – waiting. He waits for the fruit to ferment. Sometimes it takes years for the wine to become what he is hoping for.
How like God to oversee our lives and how the Fruit of His Spirit is growing and maturing in us.
Patience (ESV) is defined as “the suffering of afflictions, pain, toil, calamity, provocation or other evil, with a calm, unruffled temper; endurance without murmuring or fretfulness.”
Long-Suffering (KJV) is defined as “bearing injuries or provocation for a long time; not easily provoked.”
Let’s just take a minute to really think about these definitions and how they can apply to our marriage.
We’ve all heard people joke, “Don’t pray for patience because the Lord just might send you situations where you’ll need it!” It’s true. We all tend to equate learning patience with GREAT adversity. But is this right? Shouldn’t we rather pray for God to make this fruit evident in our lives, not only for His glory – but our good?
Here are some recent situations where I’ve been personally tempted to be impatient; maybe you’ll be able to relate:
- Being misunderstood and even critically judged as to why I did or didn’t do or say something I should have. (“bearing injuries”)
- Waiting a week for a diagnosis about my health. (“endurance without fretfulness”)
- Seeing my spouse do something again, I’ve asked him to stop for my sake. Not a sin issue, but a safety issue. But it could have been a sin issue – we’ve both been there many times too. (“a calm, unruffled temper”)
- Attempting to help my grown children overcome areas of struggle in their own lives and not seeing them “get it” as soon as I hoped they would. (“endurance without murmuring”)
- Watching the news and feeling quite angry, desiring change in our world, but not seeing it soon enough, if ever. (“bearing provocation for a long time”)
These are just a sampling of issues we all face on a daily basis. God uses these circumstances to squeeze the sweet juice of His Spirit from within us to prove we are His.
But why is it so hard?
Why do we find ourselves grumbling instead of rejoicing in trouble? I believe it is because we lack this one attribute – patience, and a willingness to suffer long for it. Not for the sake of suffering, but for the sake of Him who is making us into the people He wants us to be.
God is good. We all believe this.
Everything He does is good. We may struggle with this one at times because we can’t always explain why He chooses to do what He does. This requires faith.
One thing is certain whether we believe it or not – God always does whatever pleases Him. And what pleases Him most is watching us trust Him and believe Him when we are hard-pressed on every side. The waiting and wondering is when He’s producing in us the sweet wine of His Spirit. He desires to use what He’s invested in us in order to help others, to refresh others, and to sustain others in whatever they are facing.
Our lives are to be “poured out as a drink offering” as Paul says to the Philippians:
“Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.” Philippians 2:14-17
Patience isn’t an attribute to be avoided, but one of the most important aspects of the Fruit of the Spirit. The question is are we willing to wait for it to mature in us? How about in our spouse? God, please help us answer with a faith-filled “YES!”