Patience (aka long-suffering) is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (see Galatians 5:22). It is also the first attribute associated with love in I Corinthians chapter 13.
How many people these days exhibit patience though? I know I struggle with it. I want people to be nice to me NOW. When they get impatient, I get upset. I am impatient for them to be patient! Oh, what a flawed world we live in. We have more flaws than we know.
But God is patient. I John 4:8 tells us that God IS love. To know God is to have this patient love living in us. As God the Father’s only begotten Son Jesus Christ demonstrated that love toward us (see John 3:16). It is a very patient love.
Acts 10:38 declares that Jesus did good and healed everyone that the devil oppressed. Out of love – the Father’s perfect love – He healed the sick, raised the dead, and cast out devils. His love was full of patience and endured much unbelief.
One time there was a man whose son had a deaf and dumb spirit. Jesus’ disciples could not cast it out. When Jesus heard this, it frustrated him. “O unbelieving generation! How long must I remain with you?” he said. “How long must I put up with you?” In other words, “How patient must I be?”
Why did he say that? Perhaps it is because people still questioned His ability to heal, despite the many miracles He had done. Imagine, for example, that you are an expert table maker. If anyone can make a table, you can. But despite the fact that people know you built thousands of tables, they question your ability to build another one. Perhaps they suspect your “table-building anointing” has run out. They asked your workers for help but they weren’t as skilled, so they wonder if perhaps you have resigned from the business.
“I know you did it before, but are you sure you can do it again?” they ask.
You know you still have what it takes to build tables, but most people doubt you can. Even after seeing you at work, they’re still not sure. You feel the patience draining out of you.
“Oh, puh-lease! You’ve doubted me a hundred times and I’ve had it up to here! No more, that’s it, I’ve reached my limit. I’m finished, do you hear me? Completely finished with you!”
That’s what Jesus could have said. But love is full of patience – aka long-suffering – meaning that it suffers long. Despite the continual episodes of unbelief His people demonstrated, Jesus showed them patience.
He said, “Bring the boy to me.”
The father made another mistake. He said, “If” – as in, “If you can do anything, please help us.”
Again, Jesus showed patience, by encouraging him. “If you believe, all things are possible to the one who believes.”
The father asked Jesus to help his unbelief and Jesus did.
The fruit of love is patience, and patience comes from God.