My free-spirited 6 year old is learning to read and let’s just say this summer we’ve been less than diligent about her practice. Partly due to summer’s lack of structure and partly because I just don’t have the patience to sit and listen to her struggle over the same words every.single.time.
Ok, I’m being truly vulnerable here – letting you in on one of my biggest weaknesses as a mom. I’m so impatient and this struggle affects how I lead and guide my children. Thank God for his amazing grace that covers my kids and me as we muddle through.
I know my girl’s struggle to read proficiently is likewise due to her own impatience. And I feel the weight of needing to overcome my weakness in order to help her develop the ability to persevere. This is God’s way – to use our life lessons to grow us while helping us guide our children. And as I’ve grown in motherhood, I’ve come to understand he doesn’t require perfection from me at the start but rather, he uses my process to begin the life-long process of redemption and growth in my children.
Still, as I continue along my own path of learning patience, I must be a teacher for my kids. When I feel as though I don’t have the words or example to guide them, I love looking to the Word for stories of great men and women of God who illustrated patience in their lives.
3 Bible Stories That Teach Kids About Patience
Abraham & Sarah
“When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am God almighty; walk before me and be blameless, that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.’ Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, ‘Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall me Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you.’. . .Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, ‘Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?’” Genesis 17:1-6, 17
Sometimes God asks us to wait for something even though he’s promised it to us. God promised Abraham he would be the father of many people. But at a very old age, he was still without any children. Abraham and Sarah knew what God had told them but they had yet to see evidence of the promise in their lives. How could Abraham become the father of many when he didn’t have any children? Abraham and Sarah trusted God and they waited patiently for him. This doesn’t mean they waited perfectly. They took matters into their own hands at times. But God’s grace covered them and he still fulfilled his promise, in his perfect timing.
Use this story to share with your child that sometimes God and parents ask us to wait for things. We have to trust that they know what is best for us and will do what they promised. As we wait, it can be tempting to make things happen on our own or to run ahead. But waiting patiently means waiting without question or complaining. Doing so will make the blessing we receive so much sweeter.
Related verse: “I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.” Psalm 40:1 (Inclined means he leaned into or came towards. Explain to your child that this means God is near as we wait. He understands our struggle and will help us if we ask him to.)
“So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the robe of many colors that he wore. And they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it. . .Then Midianite traders passed by. And they drew Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. They took Joseph to Egypt. . .Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt, and Potipher, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, had bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man. . .So Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Come near to me please.’ And they came near. And he said, ‘I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. . .And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors.’” Genesis 37:23-24, 28, 38:1-2, 45:4-5, 7
(The story of Joseph is long and involved but such a powerful illustration of how God works as we wait. Consider reading the full story to your child in a storybook Bible.)
When we trust God in the midst of waiting, we allow him to work on our behalf. Joseph was his father’s favorite and because of this, his brothers did not like him. They wanted to hurt him and get rid of him. They chose to sell their brother and so he was brought to Egypt. While there, Joseph became very successful and helped the king. Later, during years of famine (or a shortage of food in the land), Joseph was put in charge of the grain available in Egypt. Joseph’s family was in great need of food so his brothers traveled to Egypt to find some. Little did they know, their brother was in charge of the food and would provide for them.
Use this story to share with your child that when we trust God while we wait, we allow him to work things out for us. Joseph could have been scared and angry at what his brothers did to him. But he faithfully worked with a good attitude while he waited through life in Egypt. He became friends with the king and God used his new relationships to provide for his family.
Related verse: “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9
God’s Example of Patience
“And Moses summoned all Israel and said to them: ‘You have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes in the land of Egypt. . .the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs and those great wonders. But to this day the Lord has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear. I have led you forty years in the wilderness. Your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandals have not worn off your feet.” Deuteronomy 29:2-5
(It would be difficult to share the story of Moses leading God’s people through the wilderness for 40 years in a few, short passages of scripture. Consider sharing this story with your child using a storybook Bible. It is a wonderful example of God’s patience.)
Because God is so patient with us, we should be patient with others. There are many examples in the Bible of God’s long-suffering and many verses that express his character of patience. The story of the Exodus out of Egypt though, is perhaps the most amazing. For forty years God led Moses and his people through the wilderness towards the promise land. Along the way, God’s people doubted, complained and often came close to giving up. But God patiently heard their cries and answered them by providing food, water and other miraculous signs of his good character.
Use this story to help your children understand the patience of God. His heart is tender and he understands our struggle to wait and to endure. He is always available with exactly what we need to keep going. Likewise, he wants us to share his patient character with others. Just like God graciously understands our struggles and our needs in the midst of waiting, he wants us to work to understand that of others. When we are patient with others, we are being an example of God’s good character.
Related verse: “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” Psalm 86:15
What verses or stories are you using to teach your kids (or yourself) about patience? How do you help your kids learn to wait?
Jessica Wolstenholm is co-founder of Grace for Moms. After 15 years in the music and publishing industries, Jessica came home to be with her two small children. Although the transition from the corporate world to the playground has been an adjustment, she is learning every day to access the grace available to us through Christ as she navigates the full time job of motherhood. She is the co-author of The Pregnancy Companion: A Faith-Filled Guide for Your Journey to Motherhood and The Baby Companion: A Faith-Filled Guide for Your Journey Through Baby’s First Year. Jessica lives in Nolensville, TN with her husband, Dave and two miracle babies, Hope (6) and Joshua (2).