“Whoever is patient has great understanding,
but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.”
“Better a patient person than a warrior,
one with self-control than one who takes a city.”
Isn’t it interesting that in these two proverbs on patience, the opposite of patience is aggression? Demanding my way, taking something by force, raging at another person are the consequences of impatience. Patience, however, is a sign of great understanding, self-control more powerful than a mighty warrior.
We’ve been in a long season that has demanded patience. Limited gatherings, mask-wearing, quiet Christmases, a challenging school year, absences from family members- all of these struggles of pandemic life have asked patience from us. And, I imagine, each of us has also exploded like the quick-tempered mighty warrior whose patience expires. But wisdom tells us that patience brings us closer to the will of God than does our demanding aggression.
I find myself struggling with patience in 2021. Vaccines are being distributed. The toll of dark winter days mounts. Zoom is no longer novel but exhausting. I find myself doing mental math figuring out how many doses of vaccine need to be dispersed each day to reach herd immunity by July...or August… or Labor Day Weekend. I want to think about planning a “normal” church program year instead of thinking about the days and weeks ahead.
But patience, divine patience, reminds me not to rush any year, even a year of struggle and inconvenience. We never know how many years we have left, or what disaster unforeseen may lay ahead. We also know that God’s goodness surrounds us presently, grace is alive, New Creation is budding around. I don’t want to miss that in hopes of something better down the line that may, in fact, never materialize.
So how do I identify the good of this day? How do I celebrate the people around me now? What about my current location is joyful and exciting?
I believe we grow in patience as we come to celebrate the present even while hoping in the future. Simple delights like sledding and drinking hot cocoa on a snowy day. Sending text messages to catch up with a friend. Walking the dog down familiar streets. Cooking a meal, watching your favorite team, even picking up and cleaning the house. God is in those rhythms and cycles, not only in a distant future we will “one day” know.
So may we be patient in 2021, cherishing the present while hoping for restoration in the future.
O God, give me patience-
Eyes to delight in what is around me
Ears to listen attentively to others
Hands that comfort and heal
You are here, right now.
May I be here right now too.
-The Rev. Andrew C. Whaley, Head of Staff