Some Thoughts about Patience

Ecclesiastes 7:8-14

Our most excellent adventure now moves into the second of the sections in chapter seven: Patience. Yes dear reader, I am going over this one carefully myself, since patience is really not my strongest suit! The topic is set clearly enough in verse 8:

The end of a matter is better than its beginning,
and patience is better than pride.

This verse hearkens back to the discussion in the previous section about houses of mourning and the day of death being better than the day of birth; a matter is best concluded in life, rather than begun, for in its conclusion we know if we have concluded it properly and in a way pleasing in the eyes of God. Likewise, it is better to be patient than proud. If you stop and think about pride, it might not seem to line up well with patience, for all too often it leads a person to impatience, as a proud person seeks to have their way over someone else, while the patient person must deal with others in ways that respect their opinions, views and personhood.

Verse nine reinforces this thought:

Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit,
for anger resides in the lap of fools.

Allowing ourselves to be provoked would seem to trigger (in this context) rash actions of anger and impatience which reside in the “laps of fools.” This is set out further in verse 10:

Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?”
For it is not wise to ask such questions.

How common this is; ah yes, the good old days were so much better than the here and now. Were they really? My father used to speak of those good old days, when people weren’t as crazy as they are “now”. Well, his “good old days” were the 1930’s and ‘40’s. The “now” was the 1960’s. If you stop and think about it, as crazy as the ‘60’s were in some ways, I doubt they were worse than the Great Depression and the Second World War! But from my father’s point of view, the ‘30’s and ‘40’s had been concluded; he knew how they ended, and things eventually worked out. Then in the ‘60’s the issues of the day seemed to have no end in sight; would we tear civilization apart?

How do I know why he thought what he thought? Because for me, the ‘60’s and ‘70’s are the good old days! Today? What is going on in this world, will we tear civilization apart? You see, I don’t know how this is all going to come out in the end, and I want to know right now.

Funny how that works, isn’t it?

In verse 10, the Teacher tells us that it isn’t wise to ask the question about the good old days, and in 11-12 he goes on to tell us essentially that impatience isn’t compatible with wisdom; wisdom is better than impatience. Solomon wraps up this discussion in 13-14:

Consider what God has done:

Who can straighten
what he has made crooked?
When times are good, be happy;
but when times are bad, consider this:
God has made the one
as well as the other.
Therefore, no one can discover
anything about their future.

We can be just as impatient as we please. We can work ourselves into a tizzy if we want, we can become perfectly obnoxious in our impatience if we choose. Yet none of that will make the slightest difference… or if it does make any difference, it will end up being a difference that does us no good at all, for impatience is not compatible with wisdom. It is better to be wise and patient, than impatient and a fool… and you may quote me on that.

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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17 Responses to Some Thoughts about Patience

  1. I love this passage. Ecclesiastes is full of wisdom and practical truth.

  2. Steve B says:

    My good old day was yesterday. 🙂

  3. My wife wrote a short poetic verse, “Patience is a virtue, not many folk possess” she never wrote anothe line to this, which I always thought a shame

  4. mahimajalan says:

    The post is lovely. I admire what you write. It’s amazing how you put your thoughts into words. 😍
    Would be honored if you check out my new post 🙂

  5. Citizen Tom says:

    Reblogged this on Citizen Tom and commented:
    I have given up trying to keep up with all the blogs I want read. So I select what interests me, skipping from here to there.

    Don Merritt has finished his series on the Book of Ecclesiastes. He is now well into Matthew. Lord willing, I suppose I will read his commentary on that too, but right now I am considering virtue of patience.

    Do you have the patience to be patient? Cute! Right? Wondering how original that phrase is I googled it. Even in quotes “the patience to be patient” returned over 500,000 hits. It seems that patience is a struggle for most of us. So is our propensity to be cute — and trite.

    I then wondered why more people don’t turn to the Bible for strength. So I considered what my search had returned. I have yet to read the book, but it seems that in desperation some do (=> The first article that Google return was also revealing. Before she requests feedback, here is how it ends.

    I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of being impatient. I’m tired of letting normal, everyday activities upset me so much that I’m an impatient, unhappy person. I’m trying very hard to remember that every single one of us, those in line in front of me, the person walking so slowly that I have to wait, the driver in front of me going slower than molasses, are not doing it to hurt me or make me angry. They are simply other human beings living out their life and doing the best job that they can… just like me. We all have things to do, we all have schedules, and we all have responsibilities. Maybe one of those responsibilities should be to have more understanding for others and to be more patient… with each other. (=>

    We think we are too busy, but the Bible offers something deeper than worn platitudes. It puts our silly and childish complaints about waiting in the perspective of eternity, the perspective of someone facing death. When forever is ahead of us, what choice do we have except to dwell in and enjoy the moment?

    Psalm 46:10 English Standard Version (ESV)

    10 “Be still, and know that I am God.
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth!”

  6. burresor says:

    Reblogged this on Seeking God Daily and commented:
    Preparing emotionally for my son’s upcoming surgery has my nerves about as cool as a whistling teapot. I’m in dire need of patience and wisdom. It did my heart good to see God providing this in some of my reading this week.

    Just pray God is patient with me, as I’ve let myself lose valuable time and focus on Him.

    I think we all could learn a little patience sometimes. For the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, nor does looking back make things any better. Sometimes, we simply need to learn to wait, understand, and trust even when we don’t have all the answers.

  7. arsenios says:

    Just pray God is patient with me, as I’ve allow myself recede valuable metre and focussing on Him.
    I remember we all could take a short patience somemetres. The foremost clause that Google takings was also telltale(a).

  8. Ecclesiastes is such a interesting book in the Bible I often think about all the wisdom Solomon had and how we can learn from it. Great post.

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