Why 8 Bible stories about patience? The title says to encourage you and that is only partly true. What I really want to do is help you focus.
Let me explain. If you are like me, your world is in constant motion and you are overstimulated by the people who need you, social media, work, etc. When things are not going well, even one of those things, we become even more stimulated which results in stress, anxiety, and health issues.
We need the patience to endure everything going on in our lives. This is an attribute of God and I believe He will bless us with it when we come to Him and pray for it.
Let’s go over what patience is. According to Merriam Webster, patience is defined as:
1: bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint
Are you nodding your head? You are having trouble with one or more of these, aren’t you? I know I am!
So, let’s focus on the lives that God has documented for us in scripture. They are there for a reason. Apply their lessons to your life, focus on their interaction with God and their obedience to His truth. These are not simply feel good stories, they are intended to change your life.
Bible Stories about Patience
We have an endless number of examples of patience in the Bible to encourage us. We also have an endless number of examples of impatience in the Bible for us to learn from. I only use one of the latter examples in this round up of Bible stories about patience.
Esther: A Patient Woman in the Bible
We know the story of Esther and how she saves her people from the wicked Haman, but have you ever considered her to be patient? I see it several times throughout her story. Let’s begin these inspiring examples of patience in the Bible with her.
First, we know that she quietly endured the trial of being ripped from her family and brought to the king’s palace. She hides that she is a Jew and tries to fit in. The Bible says that everyone who knew her delighted in her.
Next, the idea of being a queen is every little girl’s dream, but to be married to a heathen king and forced to worship the true God in secret would require a lot of patience.
We see Esther’s patience again when she hears about Haman’s evil plot. She does not march over to the king and demands he listens to her. She is much too wise for that. Rather she calls for a three day fast.
After the three days, we see she has another plan that again requires patience. Not one, but two banquets before she approaches the king.
The result of the patience of Esther? The saving of the children of Israel.
Abraham and Sarah
Abraham and Sarah are another classic Bible story. God promises Abraham a son and yet his wife, Sarah, has been barren their entire marriage. We acknowledge Abraham’s faith here, but are we looking at his patience?
It took God 25 years to fulfill his promise to Abraham and give Sarah a son. However, the story is much more complicated than that because Sarah becomes impatient and convinces Abraham to have a child with her maid, Hagar. (See “Hagar: A Lonely Woman Seen by God” for more about her!)
This causes all kinds of trouble and we see what happens when we run ahead of God!
Abraham continues to wait patiently for God’s will to be accomplished and thus the chosen people of God come to pass!
Abigail: A Patient Woman in the Bible
We find Abigail in 1 Samuel 25. She is described as a woman of “good understanding and beautiful appearance”. In the day of arranged marriages, she ended up in every girl’s nightmare. Her husband, Nabal, is described as “harsh and evil in his doings”.
David is hiding out from the jealous King Saul and has gathered a small group of men. During this time, he and his men help Nabal’s workers with his many sheep.
David politely requests payment from Nabal. He needs to provide for the men who are faithfully following him.
Nabal refuses, true to his described character.
David becomes angry and loses his temper. He commands four hundred men to prepare for battle.
Abigail hears about David and his plan to destroy her family. She knows her husband all too well and takes matters into her own hands.
She quickly loads several donkeys full of food. Bread, wine, meat, raisins, figs, etc. She sends them ahead with the servants and follows behind on her own donkey.
She does not tell Nabal.
Ok, so I just have to pause here and point out Abigail’s courage. She is married to a wicked man who will most likely beat her when he finds out what she is doing AND she bravely faces the man who is bent on destroying her family.
She comes face to face with David just in time! She throws herself at his feet and begs him not to destroy her family.
David, realizing the sin he was about to commit, thanks her, accepts her gifts, and turns back.
We see Abigail’s patience and wisdom when she returns home and finds Nabal drunk. She does not mention to him that she just saved his life. In the morning, when he is sober, she confesses.
The Bible tells us that when he hears about it “his heart died within him and he became like a stone”. I’m not entirely sure what that means, but he dies 10 days later.
Although the Bible doesn’t exactly say it, I picture Nabal angry at Abigail for interfering and just as he’s about to hit her, God punishes strikes him with some kind of stroke and saves her.
When David hears that Nabal is dead, he asks Abigail to marry him and she accepts. A Bible story about patience with a double happy ending!
I don’t know that I’ve ever written about Noah because it is such a well-known story, but I’m ready to put a new perspective on this man of faith.
First, let’s look at how long it took to build the ark. Scripture tells us 120 years (Genesis 6:3). Answers in Genesis has a great breakdown of the time frame and comes up with 75 years. Regardless, it was a long time!
The crazy amount of time that he spent steadily building the ark is our first example of patience.
Next, let’s look at the world at the time.
Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Genesis 6:5)
If you think sin is prevalent in our day today, imagine what it was like for Noah! He had to patiently endure the times!
Tamar: A Patient Woman in the Bible
I go into detail about Tamar and the lessons we can learn from her in “The Story of Tamar: How to Have Patience When Life Isn’t Fair” but let’s go into it here as well.
The story of Tamar is a bit unsettling.
Judah is one of the sons of Jacob. After Joseph is sold into slavery and the lie of the brothers is told to Jacob, Judah visits a friend and meets a Canaanite woman whom he marries and has three sons.
The first son, Er, is given in marriage to Tamar. Now, outside of this story of Tamar, we know little about her. We also know little about Er, except that he was wicked so God kills him.
See, I told you it is unsettling.
As is tradition, Tamar is given to Judah’s second son, Onan, who is also wicked and meets with an early death.
Judah, thinking there is something wrong with Tamar that his sons keep dying promises her that she can marry his youngest son, but not until he’s a little older.
Tamar goes back to live with her father as a widow and an unknown period of time passes. Tamar sees that Shelah has grown and Judah has not given him to her to marry. She is promised to him and cannot marry anyone else. Judah has treated her unfairly and she knows it.
Judah’s wife dies and he is struggling with grief. He goes into another town for sheep shearing and Tamar, who has been very patient, comes up with a plan.
She desires to have children and continue on with her life so she disguises herself as a temple prostitute and sets herself right in Judah’s path.
Judah sees this prostitute, not knowing that it is Tamar, and asks for her services. He promises to give her a young goat as payment. She requires he leave her his staff and signet as collateral, only she disappears before the promised goat is brought back and keeps the necessary evidence. Smart girl.
Tamar’s plan works perfectly. She conceives twins.
Judah is furious when he finds out she is with child, thinking that she had played the harlot and shamed his family. He commands she be put to death. (I’m not even going to touch on the unfairness here). We see the patience of Tamar once again.
In a dramatic climax, she says “By the man to whom these belong, I am with child.” And she said, “Please determine whose these are—the signet and cord, and staff.” (Genesis 38:25)
Judah realizes how wrong he was and allows her to remain in his house. Tamar gives birth to twins, Perez and Zerah. Perez being the son in the lineage of Christ.
This is pretty much the end of the story of Judah and Tamar. 1 Chronicles 4:21 mentions that Sheelah has a son named Er, which leads one to think that perhaps Tamar was given to Sheelah in marriage and he did provide a son to carry on the line of Er.
While scripture has a great deal of content on David’s life, I want to focus on one season. Here, David has defeated the giant and been anointed by the prophet Samuel as the next king. One would think David would be living the best years of his life.
But he’s not. He’s running for his life instead! The jealous King Saul knows that David is in God’s favor and is determined to hunt him down and preserve his kingdom.
Does David fight against Saul or patiently wait for God to work out the details?
You guessed it! He patiently waits. Actually, he is forced to remain in hiding and while the opportunity presents itself to kill Saul, he remains faithful to God, and doesn’t harm him.
Another wonderful example of patience in the Bible is that of Caleb. While he lived and worked with the famous Joshua, he is less known.
We first meet Caleb in Numbers 13 when Moses sends 12 spies into the land of Canaan. They had just witnessed the power of God with the plagues of Egypt and the parting of the Red Sea. It was time to fulfill God’s promise to Abraham and give the land to his descendants.
However, the spies that went into the land to do a little recon, come back afraid and doubtful. They had seen giants and other fearful things. Ten of them anyway.
Caleb and Joshua are the exceptions. Both of them are full of faith and ready to fulfill God’s promise. They are not at all afraid of giants.
God becomes angry with the lack of faith of His chosen people and sentences them to wander in the wilderness until the adults have passed away. All except, you guessed it, Joshua and Caleb!
Now, this is where Caleb becomes our hero of Bible stories about patience. He wanders for 40 years because of the unbelief of others.
We know that he remains faithful to God. Joshua 14:6-12 tells us the end of the story.
Then the children of Judah came to Joshua in Gilgal. And Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him: “You know the word which the Lord said to Moses the man of God concerning you and me in Kadesh Barnea. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought back word to him as it was in my heart.
Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt, but I wholly followed the Lord my God. So Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children’s forever, because you have wholly followed the Lord my God.’
And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years, ever since the Lord spoke this word to Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in.
Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the Lord said.”
And he does. His patience and faith rewarded.
Mary: A Patient Woman in the Bible
We all love the story told over and over at Christmas time about the miraculous birth of Jesus, but have you ever taken the time to study Mary? I mean, study her as a person, a willing and obedient daughter of the Most High? Let’s end these examples of patience in the Bible with another amazing woman.
While much of her character is honorable, what stands out to me is her patience.
Think for a moment about her situation. Life was going well, she is betrothed to a godly man, and she is looking forward to marrying and having a house full of children.
But her life takes a sudden detour. While we look back and see her as blessed, she was an unmarried pregnant woman. Not a good thing in those days. Who on earth would believe her story that an angel came and told her she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit.
After a series of events including escaping to Egypt to keep her son safe, life finally settles down. For thirty years anyway. Let’s move forward to where Jesus begins his ministry.
Mary believed in her son, there is no doubt about that as she was present in the upper room on the Day of Pentecost, however, there were many who did not. Can you imagine what it was like for her to listen to the criticism, disbelief, and aggression toward him?
She quietly took a back seat and observed his ministry and yet there she was weeping at his feet as he died a cruel death on the cross.
What was she thinking? Was she begging God to save him or was she demanding an answer from him about what was going on?
How many times have you been completely confused by circumstances in your life? Or even blindsided? How many times have you begged God or demanded answers?
Mary patiently endured what was before her. May we follow in her footsteps.
I hope these Bible stories about patience encourage you in your own season! I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
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