Author: Ron Graham


Patience and Suffering
—Hope Amid Trouble

You are waiting at a bus stop. It's pouring rain. The bus is running late. Your kids are squabbling. You've just realized that you left your credit card at Woolworths' checkout. It's moments like these that patience is a virtue hard come by. It's easy to be patient when the weather is perfect, the bus runs on time, the kids are like saints, and your purse is in order.

In the same way —in your spiritual life— its easy to be patient with God when your church is wonderful, your neighbours are tolerant, your prayers are all answered, your sins are few and forgiven, your spouse and family share your faith, you have no enemies nor opposition, and you are blessed with love, health, and money. But it may not be that way for you, and certainly that's not how it is for many Christians.

Paul, and the people he served in the gospel, did not have an easy time in their faith, otherwise why would he exhort them to be "rejoicing in hope, patient in troubles, devoted to prayer" (Romans 12:12)? They had hope for the future but tribulation in the present. So they were encouraged to be patient and prayerful while they suffered.

1 The hardships Paul suffered

Some of the personal passages from Paul's writings make us wonder how he ever coped. If he had patience in his circumstances, then he is well qualified to be a mentor for us.

2 Strong encouragement for the suffering

The scriptures are full of encouragement to help and strengthen the suffering, and to help them endure with patience. Remember these exhortations are real letters written in real situations where real people were suffering. Here are some examples...

3 Being patient together

It is very hard to be patient alone. Sufferings need to be shared. We draw encouragement from each other and are strengthened by one another's example.