This time of year can bring out the best in people as we think of others, give gifts, and seek to help people who are lonely or less fortunate. But it can also be a time of year when the worst side can be visible too, as parents fight over the last of the year’s most popular toy and arguments erupt over car parking spaces or in homes as extended families meet and frustrations rise. 

At Christmas, patience can be in short supply. We want our kids to behave as we visit relatives. We want to get all the shopping finished as quickly as possible. We’d love a nice picture of our whole family – where everyone is smiling and looking at the camera at the same time!

This post is a real challenge for me to write, as a lack of patience is a weakness of mine. I often pray for more patience. I am even impatient with myself as a Christian, wanting to rush to be more mature in my faith, rather than having to go through the years of faithful obedience to the Lord through the ups and downs of life.

I recognize that my impatience often stems from having an overinflated idea of how much I can do in one day. But actually, the heart of the matter and the sin of my impatience is a desire for things to go my way rather than trusting that God’s way is the best! 

In Psalm 103 we are encouraged to praise the Lord as we are reminded of our Heavenly Father’s kind deeds, compassion, mercy, and wonderful patience toward us. This comes from His great and loyal love for us. God’s love is never ending, it never gives up, is never broken, and lasts always and forever!

God provides us with a picture of the vastness of His love for us in verse 11, as His steady love towers over us like the sky. I love looking up at the sky watching the clouds float over, but on a clear night it is even more spectacular. If you can get away from the city lights, the number of stars is truly breathtaking. It reminds us how vast creation is. This is a picture of how God’s steady love for us is overarching, towering over us. Amazing!

Thankfully, the Lord does not deal with us as our sins deserve. Instead, because of Christ’s obedience to come into this world and be our substitute on the cross, we are lifted from the pit. God crowns us with His loyal love and compassion, removing our sins as far as the east is from the west – that is unmeasurably far! What huge mercy!

It isn’t that God is unaware of just how bad we are. He fully knows us. It isn’t even that He turns a blind eye to our sins. He sees everything. He could remain angry and accuse us, keeping us from His holy presence. But He chooses love, mercy, and compassion – He pays the debt of our sin and is patient with us, even when we fall again and again. I need reminding of that when my patience with my sinfulness has worn out! 

However, this isn’t an excuse for us to keep sinning, thinking the Lord will be patient and forgive us, so what does it really matter? (See Romans 6:1-11). As Christians, we are united with Christ! The Holy Spirit gently opens our eyes to see our sin and we are so transformed by God’s wonderful love for us that the desire of our hearts is changed. We want to keep His covenant of love and to obey His commands – to be powerful warriors of God! This makes us stand out in the world, pointing others to the source of it all and bringing glory to the Lord. The difference is obvious and beautiful. 

As we remember the great love, mercy, and patience God has shown to us, we then are enabled to reflect this to the world around us. This Christmas, as we rush around here and there, may we take some time to reflect the love, mercy, and patience of the Lord to those we are with and meet along the way. 

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Julie McIlhatton

Julie McIlhatton

Julie McIlhatton lives in the beautiful Northern Ireland with her lovely husband and two fantastic boys. She is blessed to be able to be a stay at home mum and be involved in different ministries at her church. In her free time she likes to watch movies, play board games, and go for walks (when it’s not raining!). She enjoys listening to music of various kinds and is amazed at how much easier the right music makes mundane tasks, like cleaning. She is acutely aware of God’s undeserved love and grace lavished on her. In response, she seeks to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever.

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