Receiving Patience From God: A Key to Happiness

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Battlefield of the Mind" by Joyce Meyer. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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How patient are you? Do you wait with contentment—or do you fret with anxiety?

In Battlefield of the Mind, Joyce Meyer argues that the devil uses an impatient attitude to sap positivity from our lives. We should be content while we wait—rather than delay joy until we have what we’re waiting for. This positive attitude comes from God, who can use times of hardship to cultivate patience in us.

Read more to learn the importance of receiving patience from God.

A Patient Attitude

Meyer proposes that we need to receive patience from God to enjoy a positive life. Having patience means being positive while waiting for things in our lives. When we’re impatient for our lives to get better, we can end up trapped in a negative mindset because we have an excuse to not be positive right now. Meyer explains that we spend most of our lives waiting for something to happen. Many of us live in a pattern of expectantly waiting for something, briefly rejoicing when we get it, and then going right back to waiting for the next thing. While it’s human nature to always have a goal to work towards, if we don’t know how to be patient between our successes, we can easily be consumed with impatience and the negativity that comes with it.

Impatience as a Universal Experience

Meyer portrays impatience as an inherently negative experience. But, psychologist Jim Stone explains that impatience is a more complicated emotion than its colloquial use suggests and is in itself neither positive nor negative. Stone explains that impatience is our natural reaction when we realize that it will be more difficult to reach our goals than we initially thought. We respond to this realization by looking for alternative ways of accomplishing our goal. Together, our mental and physical reaction to a setback produces the experience of impatience. 

Impatience can be useful at times. Stone points out that impatience likely served an evolutionary purpose. If hunter-gatherers realized that it took too long to find food using a particular method or location, their impatience would have prompted them to switch strategies. Today, impatience can help us realize when something in our life (something as small as a traffic jam or as significant as a relationship) takes more effort than it should, which can lead us to seek alternatives. 

Like Meyer, Stone acknowledges that impatience can also be detrimental and potentially dangerous, citing a person trying to get out of a traffic jam and causing an accident as an example. Similar to Meyer’s argument, he notes that impatience and indignation combined can be a particularly destructive force in our lives. He explains that when we experience a setback that feels unfair (what Meyer might describe as pride), we’re particularly prone to making rash, self-destructive decisions. Humility can help us avoid a negative mindset and poor choices in such a situation.

Meyer explains that trials in our life help us learn patience and humility because they force us to work through our negative tendencies like pride, anger, and self-pity. Once we’ve worked through these emotions, Meyer explains that we’ll accept that God’s plan for us might not involve getting what we want right now. 

The humility and patience that we gain through trials also make us less vulnerable to Satan’s attacks on our minds. Meyer explains that Satan uses impatience and pride to make our minds overly idealistic. If he can convince us to have unrealistic expectations, Satan can bombard our minds with constant feelings of discontent, suggesting that things are not happening fast enough, that what we have is not good enough, or that we’re not getting what we deserve. However, a patient and humble mind expects setbacks and does not expect perfection, and as such, can be both optimistic and realistic. 

“Realistic Optimism”

Being overly idealistic and expecting things to work in our favor ‘right now’ makes our mind vulnerable to negativity and, according to the authors of a paper on our brains’ response to uncertainty, is a predictor of failure

The authors explain that when we’re unrealistically optimistic, we’re not mentally or emotionally prepared when success doesn’t come easily. Being unprepared means that setbacks can send us into a self-defeating negative spiral. They use the term “realistic optimism” to describe a belief that we’ll succeed, paired with the expectation that success will not be easy. This “realistic optimism” is a healthier and more sustainable mindset because it trains our minds to be mostly positive while leaving space for things not to go our way. 
Receiving Patience From God: A Key to Happiness

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Here's what you'll find in our full Battlefield of the Mind summary :

  • How the Devil makes it his mission to corrupt our minds with negative thoughts
  • How to recognize the signs that Satan is attacking your mind
  • How to thwart Satan’s attacks and find happiness and fulfillment

Elizabeth Whitworth

Elizabeth has a lifelong love of books. She devours nonfiction, especially in the areas of history, theology, and philosophy. A switch to audiobooks has kindled her enjoyment of well-narrated fiction, particularly Victorian and early 20th-century works. She appreciates idea-driven books—and a classic murder mystery now and then. Elizabeth has a blog and is writing a book about the beginning and the end of suffering.

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