«And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations knowing that tribulation produces perseverance «(Romans 5:3).
George Goodman (1821-1908), a famous English theologian and Bible teacher, was visited one day by one of the seminarians who were under his care. The young man anxiously asked him to pray for him.
«Mr. Goodman, I’d like you to pray for me so I can have patience.»
The experienced scholar, placing his hand on his student’s shoulder, invited him to kneel, and in his prayer he repeated several times: «Heavenly Father, grant unto him tribulation.»
At the end of the prayer, even before standing up, the young man quickly exclaimed,
«Pastor, what I really need is patience!»
Without pausing, the clergy started praying again, and repeated his request once again:
«Lord, grant him tribulation.»
Giving up, the theology student bid him farewell, saying,
«Thank you, Mr. Goodman, but I don’t want tribulation; what I need is patience!” With a kind smile, Goodman opened the Bible and read Romans 5:3.
Just a few years ago, no one got impatient while waiting for a letter that took a few days to arrive; no one protested because a bank transfer was delayed for two weeks, or because they had to wait several days for their pictures to be developed. Today, any of these actions can be done in seconds. And if, for any technical reasons, the result is delayed for a few minutes, we get annoyed and seem incapable of taking our mind away from the anxiety of wanting the result now! It seems that patience is needed more today than it was in the past. What a strange phenomenon: the technological advances which should have lessened our impatience due to their efficiency seem to have increased it. Today’s biblical message reminds us that one of the greatest benefits of tribulation is patience. We all know that we achieve more and we go much further if we work steadily and in a balanced manner, but few rely on patience in following that path. The apostle Paul endured a long list of hardships, barriers, suffering and offences. From experience, he says that tribulation produces patience «and endurance produces character, and character produces hope (Rom. 5:4, NRSV).
We all need an additional dose of patience. Therefore, if you are enduring difficulties, problems, or hardships, just consider that this may be the best opportunity to strengthen your patience. At the end of it all, when the tribulation has passed, you will find that you are closer to having the character of Jesus.