The young woman is clearly in distress. She has come to me for counsel. I have no absolutes for her. Whenever I share, I do my best not to tell people what they ought to do no matter how much I want to give advice rather than counsel (yes, there is a difference); everyone has to take responsibility for the decisions they make. This will not happen if the decision they make is based on what I tell them to do. I can only point the young woman to God’s word, encourage her to seek His face, and clear away the clutter and distractions so that she might clearly hear what He has to say.

It frustrates me to see the negative situation in an individual’s life and yet not be able to take hold of it and make it right for all the parties involved. It burdens my heart to see pain in a person’s eyes and realize I have no power to take it away. It makes me so angry to know the heartache people inflict on others even as they name the name of Christ and profess to love Him with all their heart, mind, soul and strength. In the words of Marvin Gaye, it “makes me wanna holler……” I feel so ineffective and impotent even as I am also absolutely sure that God can, and will, handle every sin committed against us if we will absolutely trust Him for the outcome.

Yes, there are times when I do muse on, and trip over, Romans 8:28 – “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” My humanity wants to know why I must wade my way through the bad to get to the “all things work together for good,” part. Why can’t it always be good all the time because I love the God who is good all the time?!

I turned on the radio just as the radio bible teacher was saying, “Relationships take patience and perseverance,” his point being that we must press our way through those prickly patches in any relationship with patience and perseverance. In other words, we cannot jump ship because my spouse is not right; my mother gets on my nerves; my children have lost their minds; my co-workers drive me crazy; those church members irk me, etc., etc., etc.

Do you know that God has a sense of humor? Well, He does, and I know it because He sent this message to me on the heels of my conversation with the young woman, just as I was thinking, “Everyone has a right to peace and harmony in their lives; why can’t we just cut bait and run?” Not only was I thinking it; I was seriously considering sharing this “message” with her.

Patience and perseverance are two words that can be anathema in this “I WANT IT NOW!” society. I cannot even remember the last time I was in a bible study, or heard a sermon, about patience and perseverance. James’ declaration, “Count it all joy,” is just one big irritant when I can see nothing in my life for which to be joyful. Patience and perseverance in this chaos called life? Are you kidding me? Seriously, God, patience and perseverance in this quagmire of a relationship in which I now find myself stuck?

The Truth: Running from adversity and conflict in relationships does not solve problems, but compounds them. Patience and perseverance are the keys to relational transformation.

7Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains.
8You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.
9Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! 10Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. 12Above all, my brothers, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No,” no, or you will be condemned. James 5:7-12 (NIV)

~From “Five Lies That Ruin Relationships: Why a Change in Scenery Rarely Improves the View” ~Chip Ingram/Living On The Edge Radio Broadcast, October 2011

The only way I will learn to be patient and to persevere in times of adversity is to be patient and persevere in times of adversity. This may sound like circular reasoning, but it is fact, hard and cold. Just as I learned to drive by driving, just as I learned to cook by cooking, just as I learned to do anything by doing it, so it is with patience and perseverance in those upside down relationships. We may never reach perfection, but we should at least try. We must kick to the curb the idea of convenience, comfort, and no challenge in this life-journey. I am not saying this will be an easy or challenge free process. I am saying that we must begin to trust Him who is still able to do more than we can ask or think, one day at a time, one step at a time, one moment at a time.

Patience and perseverance, now that’s a thought!