Have you ever planted a tree? It is a good thing to do as they breathe for us – the Rain Forest of Brazil is described as the ‘lungs of the world’. Capability Brown planted many but hasn’t lived to see the stunning results. You see, it all takes time. Trees seem to have plenty of this – the oldest Yew tree is about 3000 years old and lives in Fortingall, Perthshire. ‘Methusaleh’ is the name given to a Bristlecone Pine in the White Mountains of California, reputedly aged 4,851 in 2019. It is not surprising then that trees are often associated with ‘patience’. What a contrast to a man with a chainsaw!
- ‘Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience’ – Hal Borland
- ‘Never cut a tree down in the wintertime. Never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come’ – Robert H Schuller
Psalm One likens the person who delights in God to a tree planted by a stream, ‘which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither’. An enduring tree has roots that plumb the depths, coming through many seasons. As the longest living mammals, we come through seasons too. Biblically, that’d be 280 seasons and we can learn something in each one of them, actual and metaphorical, especially the tough lessons leading to ‘patience’. It seems that this character quality is important to the Almighty – perhaps that’s why there are so many trees here to teach us!
Back in the fourteenth century, a man called Piers Plowman wrote a poem that ‘coined the phrase’, ‘patience is a virtue’. Actually, he called it a ‘fair virtue’. Others including theologians, deep sea divers, technology entrepreneurs and champion boxers have referred to this fair virtue:
- ‘Patience is the companion of wisdom’ – Saint Augustine
- ‘Each life is made up of mistakes and learning, waiting and growing, practicing patience and being persistent’ – Billy Graham
- ‘Having patience is one of the hardest things about being human. We want to do it now, and we don't want to wait. Sometimes we miss out on our blessing when we rush things and do it on our own time’ – Deontay Wilder
- ‘A wise man is superior to any insults which can be put upon him, and the best reply to unseemly behaviour is patience and moderation’ - Moliere
- ‘Patience is bitter but its fruit is sweet’ – Jean-Jacques Rousseau
- ‘Good character is not formed in a week or a month. It is created little by little, day by day. Protracted and patient effort is needed to develop good character’ – Heraclitus
- ‘Patience is a virtue and I’m learning patience. It is a tough lesson’ – Elon Musk‘
- Genius is patience’ – Isaac Newton
There is that about ‘patience’ that speaks of waiting – we spend a lot of our lives doing that, especially when we are young and when we are older. As children, we can’t wait to be older. As older people, we now have to begin waiting on others to care for us, to listen to us, to transport us, to give us time. These things test our character all the way through this relatively short life of preparation.
- ‘It is strange that the years teach us patience; that the shorter our time, the greater our capacity for waiting’ – Elizabeth Taylor
- ‘I believe that a trusting attitude and a patient attitude go hand in hand. You see, when you let go and learn to trust God, it releases joy in your life. And when you trust God, you're able to be more patient. Patience is not just about waiting for something... it's about how you wait, or your attitude while waiting’ – Joyce Meyer
So why would God want us to wait? Perhaps it’s good for us? We’ve kept Him waiting long enough after all.
- ‘So when a man waits upon the world – waits even for things so commonplace as food or sunrise or the relief of pain – the image of God is by no means absent from him or imperceptible in him. God also waits; and it is in waiting that He invests the world with the possibility and power of meaning’ – W H Vanstone
- ‘The Scriptures contain many stories of people who waited years or even decades before the Lord's promises came to pass. What modern believers can learn from the patience of biblical saints like Abraham, Joseph, David, and Paul is that waiting upon the Lord has eternal rewards’ – Charles Stanley
Eternity seems a long way off but actually it’s now, and now, and now and … So what are we waiting for?
- ‘You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near’ – James 5:8
- ‘The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance’ – 2 Peter 3:9
- ‘A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense’ – Proverbs 19:11
Here’s a tip then, from God!
- ‘Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains’ – James 5:7
And as we do so:
- ‘…being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience’ – Colossians 1:11
- ‘Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience’ – Colossians 3:12
- ‘I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life’ – 1 Timothy 1:16
- ‘Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer’ – Romans 12:12
- ‘But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently’ – Romans 8:25
- ‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud’ – 1 Corinthians 13:4
- ‘Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love’ – Ephesians 4:2
Here’s a conclusion from the scriptures – see if you agree with it or want to draw your own?! Patience is formed in us when we learn to be patient within circumstances and with others – this patience is but a pale reflection of that shown to us by our loving Heavenly Father. Let the trees remind us!
‘Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him’ – Psalm 37:7
TAGS - patience, Methusaleh, patiently, Moliere, Saint Augustine, Billy Graham