7 Stories of Patience in the Bible

Are you struggling to be patient in your circumstances? Maybe you wonder why God hasn’t answered your prayers yet, or how you can be patient with others? I hope these great stories of patience in the Bible will encourage you, to keep trusting God and waiting for Him!

stories about patience in the Bible

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Sometimes, it seems like all my life has been spent waiting. Waiting to discover my purpose, waiting for answers to prayer, waiting to find a husband, waiting for healing, etc. etc. etc.

Of course, some things I’ve seen come to pass, but many of them I’m still waiting for. I try to be patient, to “wait for the Lord” as Psalm 27:14 says, but it’s definitely not easy! You know, I’m stuck, and I really want to get unstuck NOW (or, first thing tomorrow!), it’s just hard to be patient with the process.

Do you feel like that too?

Maybe you’ve got some situations that have yet to be resolved, dreams hanging in the balance, or even some people in your life that you struggle to be patient with…and you really need some Bible teaching on patience to help you through it.

I get it, I really do. Sometimes I can just be so IMpatient! I surely need the help and reminders, to be more patient—with God, with others, and even myself.

So, let’s explore: What does the Bible say about patience? We’ll start with WHY patience is a good virtue to have, move onto some stories about patience in the Bible, and finish with how to develop patience Biblically…

Why does God want us to be patient?

So, why is it important for US to be patient? Let’s start with the fact that, God is patient with us FIRST!

Think about it. How many times have you ignored God, deliberately sinned, neglected to do what you knew was right, and so forth? And how many times has God forgiven you and called you back to Him? If you’re like me, probably many more times than you can count!

It’s like 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (NIV)

And besides the fact that God is WAY more patient with us than we are with Him (or anyone else), patience demonstrates faith and trust. When we wait patiently for the Lord, we’re exercising faith in Him. And considering that Hebrews 11:6 says that “without faith it is impossible to please God”, I’d wager that waiting patiently (having faith that God will fulfill His promises) is very pleasing to God.

Need some more proof of the benefits of patience in the Bible? Check out these Bible verses about patience and perseverance…

And not only this, but [with joy] let us exult in our sufferings and rejoice in our hardships, knowing that hardship (distress, pressure, trouble) produces patient endurance; and endurance, proven character (spiritual maturity); and proven character, hope and confident assurance [of eternal salvation]. Such hope [in God’s promises] never disappoints us, because God’s love has been abundantly poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Romans 5:3-5 (AMP)

Even youths will become weak and tired,
and young men will fall in exhaustion.
But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:30-31 (NLT)

Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. [emphasis mine]
1 Thessalonians 5:14 (NLT)

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.
Galatians 6:9 (NLT)

Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.
James 5:7-8 (NIV)

The end of a matter is better than its beginning,
and patience is better than pride.

Ecclesiastes 7:8 (NIV)

waiting upon the Lord

7 Stories of Patience in the Bible

Okay, now that we’ve established the POWER of patience in the Bible, let’s move onto to some real example STORIES of patience in the Bible!

Certainly, there are many Bible characters who waited for a long time to see God’s promises fulfilled, or who had to be particularly patient with other people. These are just a few of them…

1) The prodigal son’s father

I decided to start with this, because of all the parables about patience that Jesus told (see also Luke 11:5-8, and Luke 18:2-8), this one illustrates how patient God is with us! How frustrating for this young man’s father, to have his son behave so selfishly, as to run off and squander his inheritance. And yet, the father waited patiently (and hopefully!) for his son to return, and was so overjoyed when his son DID come back to him!

“ ‘I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.
But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

Luke 15:18-20 (NIV)

2) Abraham

Not only did Abraham wait 25 years to see God fulfill His promise to give Abraham a son (see Genesis 12:1-9, and 21:1-5), but he also demonstrated great patience and trust in God at other times of his life as well.

Take for instance, the story of Abraham being tested, in Genesis 22:1-19. God told Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac. And at one point, Isaac asks what’s happening, and Abraham simply says “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” (Genesis 22:8). And of course, God did provide, and rewarded Abraham’s patience and trust in Him…

Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”
The angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

Genesis 22:13-18 (NIV)

3) Joseph

Of all the stories of patience in the Bible, Joseph’s is absolutely my favorite. Here’s a young man who was treated so horribly by his own brothers, sold into slavery, ran into problem after problem, and yet he remained faithful and true to the Lord throughout everything. (See Genesis 37-45).

After so many (13+) years of patiently enduring troubles, Joesph’s patience was rewarded when he became Pharaoh’s second-in-command. Years later, when Joseph was re-united with his brothers, this is what he said:

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
“So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt.

Genesis 45:4-8 (NIV)

What an amazing example of patience, perseverance, and faith Joseph was!

wait patiently for the Lord - Psalm 37:7

4) David

Another person in the Bible who waited a very long time to see God’s promise fulfilled in his life, was David! It was about 15 years, from the time David was anointed by Samuel (in 1 Samuel 16), until David officially became king (in 2 Samuel 5).

And what patience David had through the whole process! David was constantly harassed by King Saul, and spent much of the time on the run, trying to avoid Saul’s attempts to kill him. But, David never forced things…he had the opportunity to kill Saul, but didn’t. Instead, he waited for God to judge between them, and for everything to happen in God’s timing.

Then David went out of the cave and called out to Saul, “My lord the king!” When Saul looked behind him, David bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground. He said to Saul, “Why do you listen when men say, ‘David is bent on harming you’? This day you have seen with your own eyes how the LORD delivered you into my hands in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, ‘I will not lay my hand on my lord, because he is the LORD’s anointed.’ See, my father, look at this piece of your robe in my hand! I cut off the corner of your robe but did not kill you. See that there is nothing in my hand to indicate that I am guilty of wrongdoing or rebellion. I have not wronged you, but you are hunting me down to take my life. May the LORD judge between you and me. And may the LORD avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you. As the old saying goes, ‘From evildoers come evil deeds,’ so my hand will not touch you.
1 Samuel 24:8-13 (NIV)

David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned forty years.
2 Samuel 5:4 (NIV)

5) Hannah

Now, for the ladies’ stories of patience in the Bible… beginning with, Hannah. She had every reason to lose patience with God, given all her years of being barren and childless, not to mention her husband Elkanah’s other wife harassing her about it. But, instead, Hannah prayed to the Lord for a child. And because of her faith, God remembered her and gave her Samuel.

In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the LORD, weeping bitterly. And she made a vow, saying, “LORD Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”
1 Samuel 1:10-11 (NIV)

Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the LORD and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah made love to his wife Hannah, and the LORD remembered her. So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the LORD for him.”
1 Samuel 1:19-20 (NIV)

6) Ruth

If you’re looking for Bible verses about patience in hard times, look no further than the story of Ruth. Here was a woman as patient and loyal as can be, willing to stick with her mother-in-law Naomi, even after they were both widowed and Ruth had every reason to go back to her own country. And yet, she chose to patiently endure whatever might come.

But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.”
Ruth 1:16-17 (NIV)

Ruth’s patience and perseverance was later rewarded, when she met Boaz, and he became her husband—not to mention, gave her a son and new grandchild for Naomi.

Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. May the LORD repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”
Ruth 2:11-12 (NIV)

So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When he made love to her, the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.”
Ruth 4:13-15 (NIV)

7) Mary

And finally, I saved the best of these stories about patience in the Bible for last! Perhaps the most patient woman in the Bible, is Mary mother of Jesus herself. From the day the angel Gabriel first told her she would be the mother of God’s son, and throughout Jesus’ life, she displayed a rare quality of patient understanding, acceptance, and faith.

Twice in Luke chapter 2, it says that she “treasured all these things in her heart”, as if she was just patiently taking them in. She really had no idea what God’s plan was for Jesus, but she trusted anyway, and weathered the ups and downs with grace.

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
Luke 2:16-19 (NIV)

Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
Luke 2:51-52 (NIV)

Bible journaling - God's timing is perfect

How to Develop Patience Biblically

So, from all these great stories of patience in the Bible, what can we learn? If you want to wait more patiently for God, and be more patient with others (and perhaps also, yourself!), here are some ideas…

  • Appreciate how patient God is with you! Dwell on how He never gives up on you, how many times He’s rescued you from sin, and so forth. It’ll make it that much easier to wait patiently for His timing, and also be patient with other people.
  • Remember how God has been faithful in the past! Just like King David said in Psalm 59:9-10 (NIV): You are my strength, I watch for you; you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely.
  • Trust God for the present and future! Even if it seems like things aren’t happening, progress is stalled, or you’re just stuck, have faith that He’s got a plan and He’s already working on it. You might not see it yet, but you will.
  • Count your blessings! No matter what situation is trying your patience, or what season of life you’re in, there are always provisions to be thankful for. As you’re waiting, celebrate and praise God for what He’s already given you right now.

Which of these stories of patience in the Bible speaks to you the most? I hope you found at least one that inspires you! What all of these Biblical characters have in common, is their profound trust and devotion to the Lord. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), so perhaps the best thing you can do to cultivate more of it, is simply to draw nearer to God and to His Holy Spirit.

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