By Pastor Les Dennis, Fall River Baptist Church, Nova Scotia
1 Thessalonians 5:14 (HCSB)
And we exhort you, brothers: warn those who are irresponsible, comfort the discouraged, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
Patience in Confinement
Much of the world’s population is being stressed by close confinement within households. This is difficult for believers and unbelievers alike, but I only have advice for believers, because I have no idea how to deal with this without the Lord. But for believers there are biblical principles to help us face this crisis. Paul told the church at Thessalonica to be patient with everyone. (1 Thessalonians 5:14) Patience is especially important during confinement when we may expect several emotions to surface. Tensions created by a dangerous virus on the loose can keep nerves tight. The love of family, although strong, may be tested by misbehaviour of the children or a careless statement from the spouse. But the command of 1 Thessalonians 5:14 remains. We must be patient with everyone. This is especially true during confinement. There is something worse than being confined and having our patience tested by those around us, that is, being without them and all alone. To be alone during this COVID-19 closure is a great trial in itself, so if we have one or more around us, let’s be thankful and appreciate that we have someone with whom to share whatever comes our way.
Allow Patience/Endurance to Complete Its Work
After reading the command to be patient, we should think about James 1:2-3. We are told to consider it a great joy when we have various trials. How is our confinement from a dangerous virus a great joy? The joy is not the confinement itself. The joy is in knowing that the Lord will use the confinement to increase our endurance so that we will be mature and complete, lacking nothing (James 1:2-3). Endurance (ὑπομονήν) is patiently continuing on with our responsibilities in difficult circumstances. Endurance is so closely associated with patience in James 1:2-3 that the King James Version translates the Greek word ὑπομονήν as patience. But to benefit from this process we must allow endurance/patience to complete its work in us.
How do we allow endurance/patience to complete its work? Do not fight it. Do not give in to impatience and give up trying to be patient. We are not perfect, so If we fail the test and lose patience, we can recover quickly by apologizing immediately and returning to being patient. Do not get discouraged with an occasional failure; just recover from it and think about the song He’s Still Working on Me.
How may our confinement be joy? According to James (James 1:4) our trials, including this trial by confinement, will mature us spiritually. When children are beginning to get along with other children, parents consider it a success. When a child begins to share rather than lash out at another child who wants to take something from him/her, parents consider also it a success. The issues we face may be different but the principle is the same. We as believers are God’s children; we even have the right to call Him Father. During confinement He is teaching us endurance/patience by being confined with those around us. We need to expectantly practise endurance/patience as we grow in maturity and become more complete in Him. When our child misbehaves or someone else tests our patience, we should be glad that our Father is still working on us to make us up what we ought be, that is, He is making us into believers who patiently endure great trials.
Only believers have the right to expect the Lord to work in them to produce patience during confinement. If you are not a believer I would encourage you to turn from sin to Jesus for forgiveness, which qualifies you for His help. This is especially important during these dangerous times. Where will you spend eternity if COVID-19 takes you?
© Les Dennis, 2020 — Permission is given to copy this article, if it is copied in its entirety and distributed without charge.