Posted by: Mike Willoughby | February 22, 2011

A Roller Coaster Life for Patience

Have you heard the saying, “Be careful what you ask for – you may get it?”  I think this saying applies to our prayer lives too!  My wife, Kristal swears that she has never prayed for patience.  However I am certain that someone else must have prayed for patience on her behalf since she spends more time waiting in checkout lines and at stop lights than any person I know.  If you ever want to identify the slow line in a store or the slow lane in traffic, find the line or lane Kristal is sitting in.  Take my advice and pick another line!

This week, I picked the New Century Version of our series from Romans 5:3-5 because the NCV uses the word, “patience” in the passage:

We also have joy with our troubles, because we know that these troubles produce patience. And patience produces character, and character produces hope.  And this hope will never disappoint us, because God has poured out his love to fill our hearts. He gave us his love through the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to us.

I’m not saying that God sends every trial into my life specifically to teach me patience even if I may have actually prayed for patience.  I do believe that God does send trials into my life to teach and discipline me.  However even when trials and struggles are just a side-effect of living life in a broken world, God has intentions for each challenging experience.  One of those purposes is to teach me patience as indicated in the passage above.

Even though I chose the NCV translation of the verse because of the use of the word “patience,” I actually prefer most of the other translations.  I don’t believe “patience” is the best way to translate the Greek word used in the verse.  The Greek word is “hupomone” (hoop-oh-moh-nay) which is a compound word made up the root words “hupo” and “meno.”   “Hupo” literally means under “under” and “meno” means “abide” or “remain.”  The combined word means to “abide under” or “live under.”  Visualize living under or remaining user something that is a burden.  I believe the best translation is “to bear up under.”  This is why most translations render “hupomone” as “perseverance” or “endurance.”  The Apostle Paul instructs in this verse that for the believer who lives by faith in God, trials and trouble in life are intended to teach us to persevere or endure through the trials.

James states this truth even more directly in James 1:3-5:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

These are challenging words!  How many of us consider it pure joy when we face difficulties in life?  I know I find it very difficult to see the silver lining in the dark clouds of trouble in my own life.  Yet James tells me it’s not only possible to find joy in trial, it should be my base expectation!  When trouble comes my way I should not only bear up under the strain, I should actually face the experience with pure joy.  Challenging words indeed!

I’ll bet the instructions of Paul and James ring true with each of you.  We all know that we learn patience and perseverance by bearing up under trials.  Coaches certainly understand the truth of these words which is why they push their athletes to the edge in tough challenging work-outs in preparation for competition.  Endurance in athletics requires hard disciplined painful workouts.  Many young athletes consider these work-outs to be a severe trial and have a hard time joyfully bearing up under the strain.  However from the perspective of the winner’s circle, the benefit of the trial and the resulting endurance that is produced is obvious.  From that perspective, the joy becomes easy and natural.  Now if we can only develop that winner’s joyous perspective during the endurance phases of life!

As indicated in the Romans 5:3-5 passage, perseverance is just one outcome in a progression.  Next week I’ll have some thoughts on the next section of the roller coaster.  Ever hear of a character building experience?

Until next week,

Meet me at the intersection!

Previous Intersections Articles

A Roller Coaster Life for Dependence A Roller Coaster Life by Design Going Viral (Part 3)


  1. i havent prayed for patience either but I tell myself all the time be patient this will pass its a sort of self discipline I practice because of the trials of my job and other areas i have to deal with keep up the good work I look forward to reading every Wednesday

  2. I experienced that many years ago. “Be careful what you pray for – You Will Get It”
    is a book I read back then (don’t remember who the writer is) anyway that was so true and it helped me thru my trials.


  3. It has been my experience patience when seen is usually coupled with wisdom. A gentle voice when ordinary people would yell. A forgiving heart when others would smirk and plan revenge. Maybe praying for wisdom is part of the key for gaining patience. “only a thought”

    Kay ramsey

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