Wait For It

      I was fourteen. I had been a Christian for all of a year. It was Wednesday night Bible study and we were sharing prayer requests in groups of five or six and praying for one another.

      I asked prayer for the salvation of my parents. The woman next to me began to talk about how frustrated she was with her own teen-ager, how she felt she was near the end of her rope. 

      I innocently offered, “I’ll pray for you that God would give you patience.”

      The circle fell silent and the woman looked at me aghast as if I had just offered to murder her kid to relieve her misery.

     Another woman in the circle said, “Dear, you must never pray for patience for others. It causes trials.”

     For a long time after that I believed and repeated what I had been taught in that small prayer circle. Many times I said the same words to other Christians, as if in jest. But always there was some deep-set fear in my heart that praying for patience could release the destroying angel into people’s lives.

      Then one day the Lord asked me “Is patience a fruit of my Holy Spirit?”

       “Yes Lord” I replied.

        “Do you have difficulty praying for joy or faith to grow in people’s lives?” He asked gently.

         “No Lord I do not.” I returned.

          “Is patience not needed as much as these other fruits?”

          “Yes Lord.” I answered beginning to get chagrined.

          “Then you should pray for people to grow in patience and let Me worry about how I choose to answer your request. For I always know the best way to answer.”

    The fact of the matter is that praying for patience does not cause trials. Life causes trials. Further patience is not a cause of trials it is a response to trials. Even further than that, I do not believe that praying for a person to grow in patience causes more trials than normal. I do believe it releases the Holy Spirit to convict a person about how they respond to stress and that can make stress seem, well, more stressful to the impatient heart.

       In truth though patience cannot be seen by the human eye without the fiery blaze of a trial to light its existence. When all is peaceful and at rest we cannot say a person is patient because you do not have to be very great in patience to sleep on a hammock. But put a guy in the midst of an angry board meeting and you will see how deep his patience runs.

    If we are to walk the pathway of god’s ferocious love we must have patience running deep in our veins. Paul evidently thought it important enough to rank first in his defining list of love traits.

     “Love is patient.” I Cor. 13:4 NIV

     Now the writers of the New Testament used two Greek words to describe this quality we call patience:


1) steadfastness, constancy, endurance

a) in the NT the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings

b) patiently, and steadfastly

2) a patient, steadfast waiting for

3) a patient enduring, sustaining, perseverance



to be of a long spirit, not to lose heart

a) to persevere patiently and bravely in enduring misfortunes and troubles

b) to be patient in bearing the offenses and injuries of others

1) to be mild and slow in avenging

2) to be longsuffering, slow to anger, slow to punish

** Definitions care of blueletterbible.com lexicon

Now both definitions are incredible to meditate upon. However when Paul wrote, “Love is patient”, he actually said, “love is makrothymeō”.

In other words “love persevere’s bravely in enduring misfortune.”

My great grandmother had twenty-five pregnancies. Twenty of them were miscarriages. It had to be makrothymeō  that kept her going for her family.

It takes makrothymeō to “turn the other cheek” or to love your enemies, because you have to bear with the offenses of others.

     Patience of this kind doesn’t yell at the telemarketer or the bill collector. Nor does it run and hide from them. It deals bravely and peacefully with every person in every situation.

     You know, looking at it that way makes me want patience. I need it. So I do pray for it because I want to love the way God loves and if I have to go through a few ferocious trials to get there…well I think patience will be worth the price.

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;Knowing [this], that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” James 1:2,3 kjv

Let It be So!


      Our worship team got into a discussion about “real love” a few weeks ago during our time of Bible study and prayer. We were looking at I Corinthians 13 :4-8 and trying to find one word we could boil  all these verses down  into.

     You know the passage I’m referring to: ” Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails….” I Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV

    We tossed around several words but finally one of the altos on our vocal team, Betty, shot out a word that really seems to sum up God’s definition of love.

     Betty said “Love is ferocious.”

      Now that right there is powerful revelation. Look at the verses again and tell me what you think. If love were an animal would it be a kitten or a police dog? Would love be the zebra or the lion?

    Anybody who chooses the cute cuddly critter or the helpless herbivore has never really tried to walk in kindness towards the bully whose taking your lunch money. Any body who said kitten has never had to walk with hope for the child who has fallen back into drugs for the fiftieth time.

    Love is not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure. After all it is the conduit through which the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit operate. Anything that can channel gifts of such amazing power has to itself be pretty rugged don’t you think?

      Over the next several posts I am going to be breaking down these verses so that we can get a clearer understanding about this ferocious thing called love. But before I do that I want to make a few observations about these verses together that will maybe help us to understand just how potent a pill love is to take.

      First of all love is not just one of the items on the list.

      It is not right to say “love is just being patient”.

     It is not even right to say “love just always trusts”.

      If we do that then love becomes patience or trust. But love is not love until it is all the things on the list. Take away just one item and you no longer have love. If you do everything on the list but you do it impatiently you have not loved. Conversely if you are patient but you are only patient with someone because you have already given up on them then you also have not loved. For love never fails or gives up.

     You see love leaves us no quarter. It’s like the lion chasing down the zebra pouncing on its hind-end bringing it to ground. It is ferocious with us in that it never lets up. Love demands a ruthless perfection in us in order to manifest.

     Further love is not a situational thing. If we are to love we cannot choose the conditions or the individuals we are to love. Love is not about the objects of our love it is about the inner condition of our heart.

    I cannot choose when to love for love is an always things. “It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (ICor. 13:7 NIV). If I am to love I cannot say I will love on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. Nor can I say I will love when somebody does something nice for me and makes me feel like being loving.

      True love remains the same even when the objects of our love become themselves unlovely: When the child disobeys love disciplines with the hope of restoring truth for the purpose of rejoicing. When the spouse is hateful love does not retaliate or bring it up in the next time of tension. When the lady in line in front of you at Dunkin Donuts swears at you love remains kind.

     You see love is ferocious not with other people. Love is ferocious with those of us who are trying to love. It is the power that takes away all our imperfection and submits us fully to God.

     By this point most of us have given up and said “I now see I have never loved and surely I never will.”

      Congratulations you have come to the knowledge that you cannot do that which is only doable by God in you. Love is a God thing and without Him actively participating in our loving we will never attain to the goal of I Corinthians 13.

      Praise be that He does not leave us to our own devices. God and God alone will make us into real lovers. So let us now submit to Him as we go on to study the components of this ferocious love.

Pray with me.

Dear Jesus, I acknowledge that without your help I cannot love as you have called me to love. So I ask now dear Lord that as I study, first open my understanding so that I may know what love is. Then come and empower me by your grace to do that which I cannot do myself. Make me to love even as you love.

In Jesus name a-men.