A monthly column by farmer, preacher and writer for Jesus, Angus Buchan
You will find that young people are much more impatient than older people. Why is that? Because they have not suffered as much as older people. Suffering definitely makes one more patient.
As the saying goes: “A man who lives in a glass house does not throw stones” In other words when you have made mistakes yourselves, you are not so quick to judge other people.
I read in a book the other day it is so easy to point fingers to a man who has a drinking problem but if you look into his life a bit more deeply you will find that he is trying to get over issues that he is working through — maybe from the times when he was in the war and he saw some of his dearest friends die, or maybe a failure in a marriage or a business transaction that has broken him and he is trying to forget.
You can then understand why he is doing things. It is only when you are patient that you can see these things. We are so quick to write people off, or form opinions because we are not prepared to listen to their side of the story.
If you are driving down the highway and your car breaks down, who is the first person normally to stop and help you? It will be some poor person in an old broken down motorcar who will normally stop. Why? Because he understands what it is like to break down on the highway because it’s happened to him many times.
Who is normally the last patient person that you will find on the highway? It will be somebody in his latest limousine and he is very impatient because you are blocking the road and he will be very quick to say: “Look at that useless individual,” — because he has never suffered.
I have said it before and I will say it again, when I was a young boy and got sick, the person I loved to nurse me was my dear old mother. She was a sickly person all her life and she understood about pain and suffering. She would sit up with me all night and read me stories and rub my chest with Vicks and give me a hot drink, trying to accommodate me and make me more comfortable because she understood what it was like to feel sick.
When you feel sick, don’t go to some person who is 100% healthy who has never been sick in their lives, they will probably tell you to pull yourself together and unfortunately that is the case with a lot of Christians. They will go to a person who is in a state of mourning and they will say you will see your loved one again, there is a couple of scriptures etc… that is not what they want! What they want is for you to put your arm around their neck and to weep with them.
When I’ve been through some tragedies in my life, these are the people who have comforted me the most. Normally those that have walked the road before. They say very little but just their very presence says it all.
We need to understand one thing: patience comes through trial and tribulation. That is why Paul, the great apostle, could say in Romans 5:3 and 4: “I rejoice in my tribulation, tribulation works patience; patience, character and character, hope.” A man who was stoned at least twice and left for dead, who was shipwrecked and beaten within a breath of his life, who was spoken badly of and who was misinterpreted. He was an outcast by his own people for the sake of the Gospel.
He understood about suffering and as you can read in the books of the Bible, toward the end of his life he was very patient and encouraging. When he was younger and on his way to Damascus he had one objective — to arrest the Christians and to literally kill them. You see, he didn’t understand what the believers were going through and who they were serving.
Suffering makes us patient and patience gives us tremendous character. That is why I love getting alongside old people because they have all day to talk to you and they do not quickly criticise you. In fact, they will give you Godly counsel and encourage you to press on. Why? Because they have walked that road before.
I have never met a man or woman worth their salt who has got character and personality who has not been through fiery trials, not one. It would be such an honour for me one day to meet people like Dr Billy Graham, Mother Theresa and Dr David Livingstone, people of that calibre, people who have walked the talk. You will find that they would have had amazing patience and understanding and immense wisdom: People of great personality. I would never wish upon anybody suffering but every one of us will suffer. That is a fact of life.
My prayer is that our suffering is never wasted but that it is used to build character and personality in our lives. We need to work more on the inward than the outward appearance in our lives. That is not just addressed to the young ladies but to the young men as well. It is the inward character that people look for, not the external appearance.
What do they say? Beauty is only skin-deep and how true is that? It is an absolute joy and a pleasure to meet someone who has infinite patience. In fact, you never want to leave them.
May God bless you as you start to work on that virtue that this world is lacking — patience.