It was the great Sir Isaac Newton who once said, “If I have made any valuable discoveries, it has been owing more to patient attention than to any other talent.” I thought that was quite something, because it seems the key to achieving anything in life is exercising patience.
But it seems most of us are not patient by nature. You get the chicken by hatching the egg—not by smashing it open. We forget there is a natural order in most things, and more often than not, we have to wait. But when things get in our way, we stress and become agitated—like being caught in traffic, on hold too long on the phone, having to listen to your friend take forever to tell you something. There are many daily examples like these that test our patience.
But why is it hard to be patient? Most of us have to work hard on ourselves. I know I need to. Many today are in a state of perpetual confusion, being weighed down with various problems and anxieties. ‘Hurry sickness’ is one symptom and has become the disease of our Western world. Life in the fast lane is taking a tragic toll.
One journalist frankly confessed: “I am pathologically impatient and incapable of waiting for anything. I’m always stomping out of shops, bars or restaurants because the line is too long and I can’t be bothered to wait.” Today we hear of road rage—and even supermarket-cart rage! As a result of our chronic impatience and always being in a hurry, some become miserable, lonely, stressed-out and sick.
It was Joyce Meyer who said, “Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting”. And Albert Einstein admitted, “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer“—he had learned the secret of patience.
Is it Technology—or Us?
So, what I’m saying this morning is that one of the most helpful qualities people can have if they want to grow is to be patient. With patience and persistence you can overcome pretty much anything. But in a world characterised by technology and speed, is there room for patience?
In his article on the effects of technology, The Arizona Republic columnist E.J. Montini writes:
Technology has made us impatient. We no longer enjoy pausing. Or remembering. We log on, tune in, dial-up and speed off like drag racers, leaving in our wake a swirling cloud of historical dust, memory, perspective and people.
In response, author Linton Weeks, writes:
But technology only does what we want it to do. And we want it to do everything faster. We: Eat fast food. Use the self-checkout lines in grocery stores. Try the one-weekend diet. Pay extra for overnight shipping. Honk when the light turns green. Speak in half sentences. Start things but don’t finish…
Listen to what the Bible says:
- “A hot tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel” (Proverbs 15:18).
- “Love is patient, love is kind,” says the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:4.
- “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2).
In the time that Jesus lived on the earth, people lacked patience. The people of Israel wanted a king to take authority over the world. They wanted a king to rule with an iron fist. However, God had something else in mind. He came to Earth as Jesus to show how we should live. He had patience with the very people that would put him on a cross after intense torture.
If people were having difficulty with patience 2,000 years ago, how much harder is it to have patience in today’s world?
(Read A Struggle for Patience – Part 2)