Most of us are leery of praying for patience. We are familiar with the story of a lady asking D.L Moody to pray for her to have patience. The great evangelist bowed onto one knee and began praying for the woman to undergo tribulation. Discomfited, she tapped him on the shoulder and said she needed patience not tribulation. He then rose and showed her Romans 5:3 where Paul, by the Holy Spirit, tells us that tribulation develops patience or patient endurance.
However, I believe we miss the point of this passage when we think we should never to pray for endurance. That attitude reflects the values of our sinful world that believes we should avoid everything painful or difficult in our lives. Paul goes on to say that the patience tribulation produces develops character and character produces hope.
My wife and I recently watched the final episode of Agatha Christie’s Poirot mysteries on PBS. I found it difficult to watch the first half of the show because Poirot was portrayed as bitter and vindictive because of his pain and physical debilitation. I do not want physical difficulties to be an excuse for bitterness or harsh words from my heart and mouth.
We are to desire God’s transformation of our character so fiercely that we welcome the pain that God uses to produce it. This comes very close to home for me. I thank God that my cancer has not progressed as rapidly as my doctors feared. I know that is a result of people praying for me. But I still deal with constant, if minor, pain. It is easy for this to make me irritable. But that is not the effect I want it to have on my attitudes and behavior. I pray for the endurance that produces sweetness of character as I draw nearer at whatever pace to our everlasting hope.