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Patience is Forged in the Fires of Frustration

Patience is forged in the fires of frustration. Can we learn to see the value in what is difficult so that we actually look forward to what we used to dread? Frances de Sales was a seventeenth century scholar who wrote much about practical faith. He operated from an amazing assumption that many of us would find troubling. That assumption is this: “the more difficult something is, the more spiritually beneficial we will find it to be as it builds our character.” Far too many people misunderstand God because they operate from the assumption that an all-powerful God should make everything bad go away and only leave what is easy behind. They fail to see the value in striving against even impossible odds. They miss the benefit of a strength that is gained only through lifting what is heavy. There are limits to this approach to life, to be sure. But those limits are well beyond what most of us think. We are ready to pronounce something as a failure, as having no redeeming value when in fact there is still much good to be gained. Take patience for example. Most of us recognize it as a good thing. But we don’t always welcome the context in which patience is born and grows to maturity. Without moments of frustration or seasons of not seeing what we hoped for, there would be no need for patience. With this in mind, consider Romans 8:25, “But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” Translation: the frustration that accompanies working for something that has not yet arrived, is perfect for giving birth to something of enormous value – patience. Some people know they should desire patience but they do not know why. Here’s why; patience is essential for character formation. Romans 5:4, “And patience (endurance, perseverance) produces character and character produces hope.” Without patience, what we hope to become remains out of our reach. To receive much of what God offers, we need a hand. Patience is that hand. In your next encounter with something or someone who is aggravating or frustrating, remember that the circumstance is ideal for the growth of patience in your life. Such a thing is enormously valuable and beneficial. This is how we raise the bar on our discipleship.

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