A Patient for Patience

Psalm 37:7a Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.

How long is it until Christmas? When will it be my birthday again? How many months is it until Easter? Preschool is not a season marked by patience.

How much longer until I can get my ears pierced? When can I get braces? What age can I get a cell phone? Childhood is not a season marked by patience.

When can I learn to drive? How much longer until I'm allowed to date? When is my curfew going to be extended? Adolescence is not a season marked by patience.

Obviously patience doesn't just come upon us like a rite of passage. How then does one become patient?

Today's passage is Acts 25. Paul has been imprisoned in Caesarea for two years. The government has passed from the hands of Felix to Festus. Festus travels to Jerusalem to gain some understanding who his prisoner is and what the charges are against him. When he returns from Jerusalem, the Jews are in tow ready to accuse Paul once again. Within a few days, the king of the region, Agrippa, has arrived and joins in the circus that has become Paul's trial.

What strikes me most about this passage is that among all the parties described, Paul seems to be the sole one interested in the actual truth.
  • The Jews - The Jews are busy breaking their own religious laws faster than they can accuse Paul of doing so. They plot murder (Verse 3). They lie (Verse 7). Apparently their only true motive is power and control.
  • Festus - Festus is perfectly willing to be an accessory to Paul's murder. He suggests that Paul return to Jerusalem to stand trial because he is more interested in gaining power and favor (Verse 9) than rightfully trying his prisoner. He even admits that Paul has done nothing deserving of death (Verse 25).
  • Paul - In making his defense Paul makes is clear that he has not broken the laws of the Jews or Caesar (Verse 8). Paul is even willing to die, if he has done something wrong (Verse 11). It is a certainty that a trial is a mockery when the prisoner is the most interested in seeing the law enforced.

Throughout this passage, there is no hint that Paul is frustrated, angry or vengeful. Instead, he patiently endures the kangaroo court in which he finds himself. No matter how hard I try to exchange places with Paul, I can not imagine myself having that level of patience. Where does patience of that magnitude come from? It was given day by day as Paul was still before the Lord (Psalm 37:7).

There are many days in my life when I'm tempted to hit the fast forward button. Days marked by temper tantrums, teenage brooding or just repeatedly cleaning up the same mess can all lead to me developing a case of vast impatience. Instead, what I really need to do is be still before the Lord. There God equips me with the wisdom to navigate tantrums, the grace to smile over brooding and the kindness to clean up a multitude of messes.

Jesus, I know I can rely on these moments alone with You to give me the grace, wisdom and kindness to be patient today. Thank you for being so patient with me. You wait for me every morning and just smile despite how long it takes me to learn Your lessons. That is why being still before You makes me more patient - it makes me more like You.

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