The Patience of . . . Noah?

And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him. Noah was 600 years old when the floodwaters came on the earth—Genesis 7:5-6

When we think about a biblical role model for patience, our minds naturally go to Job, the character who inspired the saying “the patience of Job.” Few of us would have remained so steadfast in the face of so much loss. He found little comfort in his charming wife, who told him to “curse God and die,” or in his friends, who insisted he was suffering because of unconfessed sin. But let’s consider Noah.

First, think about the longest you’ve had to wait for something. When you’re in the middle of an urgent situation—sickness, unemployment, financial strains, uncertainty, relationship meltdowns—every day feels interminable. Hope appears distant or even unattainable as days become weeks and weeks become months or years. For Job, those seven days he sat in silence with his friends probably felt like an eternity. We don’t know how long it was before the Lord restored Job’s fortune and gave him more children.

Certainly Job gives us a lesson in patient endurance. But so does Noah. Once Noah got his marching orders from the Lord, he spent the next 120 years building an ark—a behemoth standing seven stories high and the length of 1 ½ football fields. Construction took place on dry land in the expectation of something called rain, a phenomenon no one had yet experienced. 

Now, we’ve all had that crazy neighbor, the one who straps a stuffed dinosaur on her head in the winter or the one who howls at the full moon while under the influence. (Wait, you don’t have neighbors like that? Maybe it’s just me.) But imagine what Noah’s neighbors must have thought and said about him. About four generations of people would have witnessed what appeared to be his lunacy, and the same people would have heard his relentless prophecy of doom and gloom.

Yet Noah did all that the Lord commanded him. Day after day, year after year, decade after decade, he picked up his hammer and his nails, and he went to work. He persevered despite the taunts. He persevered despite his weariness of the wickedness around him and God’s failure to bring swift judgment. He persevered despite being nearly 500 years old when he began construction and 600 years old when the flood finally came.

Even as God told him to gather up the animals and board the ark, the weather remained dry. As God Himself shut the door behind Noah and his family, still no rain had come. That would take another week. Then it would be another 40 days before the rain stopped and 150 days—nearly six months—of living in history’s biggest indoor zoo before they could disembark the boat. Even the most diehard animal lover would want to get as far away from that smell as possible.

But their work wasn’t done. Noah and his family left the ark to rebuild and repopulate the world. Their home, their community and their neighbors were gone. This was Earth 2.0. So Noah continued to require patient endurance in the Lord.

Can it be said of you, in the midst of your struggles, that you did all the Lord commanded you? Are you willing to endure hardship and scorn as you persevere in your faith? Are you willing to be seen as a fool for Christ? All this requires patient endurance, the kind you cannot muster on your own. But it is there for the taking in Christ. God is good, He is present, and He is there to carry you through, even if you must endure hardship for 120 years.