We have all seen or been involved with errant small children in a home or a supermarket. They argue or fight with one another at home and they cry out for candy the whole time they're in the store. We feel sorry for the mother but we know exactly what she's thinking, "Lord, give me patience." We hear those same words when a teenage son tells his father that he has to be driven to a game right away while dad's trying to get something done around the house. We think those same thoughts on our way to work when we get behind a driver who insists on driving 25 miles an hour in a 50 mile an hour zone and there is so much traffic coming the other way that we can't pass. "Lord, give me patience." In most instances the call for patience is not strong. It's just a way we have of letting off a little steam. But there are instances when the expression become very real and deep seated. We think of a woman whose mother is afflicted with Altzheimer. She is in constant fear that her mother will wander out of the house on a freezing day without a coat or who will turn on a stove and forget she has done so. She really needs patience. Or we think of the man whose wife of 40 years has been diagnosed with cancer and his whole world is collapsing around him. We know he needs patience to confront his world. Or we think of the parents who can't sleep because their daughter is on a date and it's after midnight and she promised to be home by eleven. In these and many other instances we think of people crying out for patience. "O Lord, give me patience."
The word "patience" comes from the Latin root word "patior" which means "to suffer." If we think about it, we realize that patience is, indeed, suffering. Not a physical suffering but a mental suffering and anguish that can gnaw at our inmost being day and night and will not give up. It gives us no satisfaction. It's a call to reject what we cannot accomplish. It is a punishment - usually for something we didn't do. It is a distracting thought we cannot banish. What can we do about it? The answer is in the very expression itself - "O Lord..." It is a time to cease relying totally on ourselves and request the help of God Himself. Will He take away our pain, our suffering? Probably not. But He will lessen it to a point where it is bearable or help us to understand why it's happening. Jesus told us that God is a caring and a loving Father Who will stand by us in good times and in bad. Learn to rely on Him when we cry out for patience for He will reply. Our God really cares for each one of us.