In this article, we will explore some amazing Bible stories about patience and what we can learn from these stories. So, grab your Bible, and let’s dig in…
We may often get frustrated when someone is late for an appointment or traffic is not moving as it should. We become impatient when there is a delay in our everyday commute.
We may even feel impatient about how long a promotion takes or get frustrated when life takes an unexpected turn. How we react to adversity and less-than-ideal circumstance shows our character. Which sometimes is very OUCH. Patience or lack of patience can really reveal a lot about a person.
Learning patience does not come naturally to many of us. We have busy lives, and waiting seems like a futile endeavor.
When we dig into the Greek word for patience used in the Bible it does not describe patience as a passive waste of time.
The word for patience is “makrothymia” which describes patience as endurance, steadfastness, constancy, perseverance, longsuffering, forbearance, and being slow to use avenging words. That is a tall order!
μακροθυμία makrothymía, mak-roth-oo-mee’-ah; from the same as G3116; longanimity, i.e. (objectively) forbearance or (subjectively) fortitude:—longsuffering, patience.
Patience as a character trait may not come naturally to us. Fortunately, God gave us examples of people in the Bible who can better help us learn how to apply patience.
Not only has God led others to be an example, but He has also been patient with us while He set a plan of salvation in motion. Jesus showed patience when He walked the earth, and when Jesus ascended, the Holy Spirit continued in each believer.
One of the attributes of the fruit of the Holy Spirit is patience because God knew we needed all the help He could give us to patiently continue His work on earth. And true patience or long-suffering is supernatural in nature.
Let us look at the biblical meaning of patience by looking at a few examples in the Bible.
Table of Contents
Bible Stories About Patience
The Enduring Patience Of Moses
You may be familiar with the story of Moses and how he led the Israelites out of Egypt, but have you ever considered the characteristics needed to see the whole process through?
- After Moses fled Egypt when he killed the Egyptian, he spent forty years away from his people. Moses learned not to take matters into his own hands but to wait. He learned to act in obedience rather than in haste. (Exodus 2:11-15).
- Moses obediently followed God’s instructions regarding the pharaoh until the Hebrews were allowed to leave Egypt. Negotiating their release may seem like the difficult part of the story. Ten plagues were no joke! But that was only the start for Moses. To use a modern phrase, the Israelites tested Moses’ last nerve. The patience that Moses shows us can also be likened to endurance.
- A trip that could take seven days took forty years, and his faith endured many trials this time in the wilderness. When Israel was caught between a charging army and the red sea, Moses persevered, trusting that God would rescue them.
- Moses endured the murmuring of the nation when they had no water. He endured their disbelief when they built a golden idol. Moses endured the lack of faith of the ten spies who went to spy on Canaan and the murmuring for food other than the daily provision of manna.
Moses shows us endurance when he spent forty days on the mountain on three occasions receiving instruction from God regarding His laws and statutes. Moses even stood up to God and begged God not to act in haste and wipe out the Israelites. Despite all of these trials, Moses endured and patiently followed where God led him until the day he died.
Moses shows us the type of patience that does not give up under difficult conditions. He teaches us how to withstand everyday challenges in order to overcome them. Moses’ patience was not a passive wandering in the wilderness but an exercise in endurance.
Hannah Waiting For An Answer To Prayer
Hannah, is an important character in the Old Testament book of 1 Samuel as she is the mother of the prophet Samuel. Her story demonstrated patience in several ways.
- Hannah was married to a man named Elkanah, but she was unable to have children. She prayed earnestly to God for a child, even in the face of ridicule from her husband’s other wife, Peninnah (1 Samuel 1:10-11). Hannah’s patient persistence in prayer showed her deep faith in God and her willingness to trust in His timing and plan.
- When God answered Hannah’s prayer and she gave birth to a son, Samuel, she made a vow to dedicate him to God’s service (1 Samuel 1:11). This meant that she would have to give up her son and send him to live with the priests at the temple.
However, Hannah patiently fulfilled her vow and brought Samuel to the temple when he was old enough to serve (1 Samuel 1:24-28). Her obedience and faithfulness in fulfilling her vow showed her trust in God’s plan for her son’s life.
- After dedicating Samuel to God’s service, Hannah prayed a beautiful prayer of thanksgiving and praise (1 Samuel 2:1-10). Her prayer shows her deep faith in God and her recognition of His power and sovereignty.
Despite the challenges she faced in her life, Hannah patiently trusted in God and praised Him for His faithfulness.
Hannah’s patient persistence in prayer, obedience in fulfilling her vow, and faithfulness in praising God serve as an example to us all. Her story shows us that even in the midst of difficult circumstances, we can trust in God’s plan and have patience as we wait for His timing.
The Persevering Patience Of Daniel
As a young man, Daniel was taken into captivity in Babylon, yet his strength of conviction and faith made him excel while living in captivity. Daniel persevered in keeping himself pure before God by not eating the king’s food. The result was that Daniel and his friends’ wisdom surpassed all the magicians and astrologers of the land.
- Daniel persevered in keeping up his prayer time with God as he would have if he were back home.
- Daniel did not give up when a decree was given that all the magicians should be put to death if the king’s dream was not laid out. We know that Daniel called on God for the interpretation and the dream, saving his life and the lives of his friends and other magicians.
- Daniel also continued to pray to God despite a decree to only bow down and worship the statue of the king. This act of faithful obedience to God rather than man got Daniel thrown into the lion’s den. Daniel’s perseverance in faithfully serving God saved his life, even from the hungry lions!
Daniel shows us what patient perseverance looks like, even when the odds look stacked against you. Despite captivity, Daniel served as an esteemed councilor to three successive kings. Keeping God’s laws puts Daniel at odds with his captors. Despite this, they could not deny the wisdom resulting from Daniel’s persistent obedience to God.
Sarah Patiently Waiting For The Promise
Sarah’s story of patience is inspiring and filled with lessons for believers today. In the midst of challenging times, she chose to remain faithful despite discouragement.
- Sarah and Abraham were unable to have children for many years, and Sarah was well beyond childbearing age. However, she waited for God to fulfill His promise to give them a child.
- When God told Abraham to leave their homeland and go to a new land that He would show him, Sarah went with him, even though she did not know where they were going (Genesis 12:1-5). She was steadfast and followed her husband’s leading.
- Sarah supported Abraham’s role as the leader of their family, even when it meant leaving their homeland and traveling to unknown places (Genesis 12:1-5). She also accepted her role as a wife and mother, even though it took many years for her to become a mother and she faced challenges along the way.
Sarah’s patient trust in God’s plan, her willingness to wait for His timing, and her acceptance of her role as a wife and mother serve as an example to us all. Despite the challenges she faced, Sarah remained faithful and patient, and God blessed her for her trust in Him.
We Learn Longsuffering And Steadfast Patience From Job
The calamities that Job endured are hard to fathom. When reading his story it just blows my mind. Losing all one’s material possession alone is a huge blow that could make one question one’s faith. But not Job!
Job lost all his earthly possessions, all Job’s children were taken from him, and his health was severely attacked. Despite all this, Job patiently trusted in God.
- We learn from Job what longsuffering patience looks like in the face of suffering. It cannot be easy to remain patient in the circumstances that Job endured. Despite everything that Satan did to test him, Job remained steadfast. Job’s faith did not waiver as he waited patiently on God.
We do not know how long Job was tested, but we know that Job did not turn his back on God, despite his wife urging him to do so. Job did not second guess God or jump to conclusions about the reason for his trial. Job steadfastly claimed his innocence despite the accusations from his friends. Because of Job’s patience, God reveals more of His character to Job.
Job’s reward for his patience was the restoration of his earthly goods and a closer relationship with God.
Paul Teaches Us Patience In The Face Of Adversity
Paul was zealous in his faith, perusing and persecuting Jesus’ followers when he thought they were heretics. God needed to have a personal encounter with Paul and stop him by means of blindness before he came to know Jesus as his savior. Like with Moses, Paul needed time to learn patience, and scholars estimate that ten years elapsed between his conversion and his first mission trip.
God certainly taught Paul how to endure patiently because he endured countless trials during his missionary journeys.
- As a Christian missionary, Paul faced intense persecution from both Jews and Gentiles who opposed his teachings. He was beaten, imprisoned, and stoned, yet he remained patient and steadfast in his faith (2 Corinthians 6:4-10, 11:23-28).
- Paul had to wait for God’s timing and direction throughout his ministry. He spent years studying and preparing for his ministry and waited for the Holy Spirit to guide him in his travels and teachings (Acts 13:2-3).
- Paul had to deal with many difficult people during his ministry, including false teachers and those who opposed his teachings. However, he remained patient and sought to bring them to a deeper understanding of God’s truth (Galatians 1:6-9, 2 Corinthians 10:1-6).
- Paul was patient in nurturing and guiding new believers in their faith. He wrote many letters to the early Christian communities, providing them with guidance and encouragement.
Perhaps because of all he learned through these situations, Paul teaches the need for patience through all his letters in the New Testament. Paul teaches about longsuffering and forbearance in Ephesians 4:1-2. In Romans 5:3-4 Paul teaches that suffering and endurance develop character and hope.
Almost any Christian can quote from 1 Corinthians 13 about the virtues of love. Paul teaches that longsuffering patience shows charitable love.
Above all, Paul teaches in Romans 2:4 that we learn God’s character of goodness and grace by His longsuffering forbearance. God showed us His patience by sending Jesus to bear our punishment. In legal terms, forbearance is a restraint from acting on a legal right. Jesus legally paid a debt that was ours but which we could not pay.
Ruth Shows Us To Be Patience No Matter Our Situation
Ruth was a woman of great faith and patience in the Bible. When faced with hardships and tough decisions, she chose to trust God’s plan for her life. Even when her husband died and she was left alone in a foreign land, Ruth remained faithful, relying on God to be her source of strength and comfort.
- Ruth’s husband died, her mother-in-law Naomi urged her to return to her own people. However, Ruth refused to leave Naomi’s side and chose to remain with her, saying, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16). Ruth’s loyalty to Naomi demonstrated her patience and willingness to persevere through difficult times.
- After arriving in Bethlehem with Naomi, Ruth began to work in the fields to provide for them. She worked hard and diligently, gleaning in the fields from morning till evening (Ruth 2:7). Her perseverance and patience in working long hours showed her commitment to providing for herself and Naomi.
- Ruth eventually caught the eye of Boaz, a wealthy landowner and relative of Naomi. However, Ruth did not rush into a relationship with Boaz. Instead, she patiently waited for him to make the first move, as was the custom at the time. When Boaz did approach her, Ruth responded with humility and respect. Her patience and respect for Boaz demonstrated her wisdom and discernment.
Ruth demonstrated patience in her loyalty to Naomi, her hard work in the fields, and her willingness to wait for God’s timing in her relationships. Her example inspires all who seek to live with patience and perseverance in the face of difficult circumstances.
In God’s mercy, He gave us assistance to learn patience and how to treat others with patience by giving us His holy Spirit. Galatians 5:22 summarizes the fruit of the Spirit and lists longsuffering among these. We could not pay our own debts, so Jesus paid them for us and gave us the Gift of the Holy Spirit to help us live in line with His character.
Patience is not a passive act of waiting. It takes strength of character and endurance. Patience is not learned when everything is going well in our lives but rather when there is resistance. We are assured throughout the Bible that we do not need to learn patience alone, though.
If you have enjoyed this article, then please let me know below. I would love to hear form you and what the Lord is teaching you about patience.
Melissa is a passionate minister, speaker and an ongoing learner of the Bible. She has been involved in church and vocational ministry for over 18 years. And is the founder of Think About Such Things. She has the heart to equip the saints by helping them get into the Word of God and fall more in love with Jesus. She also enjoys family, cooking, and reading.
She has spoken in churches in California, Oregon, Texas, and Mexico and has been featured in Guidepost Magazine and All Recipes Magazine. Read More…