Harvest of Patience
Those born in 1900 had to be the most patient people on earth. Consider the historical events experienced by those who arrived at the beginning of the 20th century. Two world wars, a global influenza and the great depression. These global crises unfolded one after another. They consumed the world’s attention for years. The first world war lasted four years. The influenza raged for two years immediately following that war. The Great Depression made life a struggle for over a decade. It was vanquished by the economic industrial engine started by the second world war, which lasted for 6 years. Add it up and it comes to 22 years of crisis living. They endured twenty-two years of financial, medical and mortal struggle. When they thought normal was on the horizon, it turned out to be another calamity. That’s why I offer them as experts in patience.
We are entering the third year of Covid-19 pandemic. Many are drained by the demands and emotionally exhausted by the uncertainty. It feels long - longer than we expected and longer than we desire. We are impatient for normal to show up. In the delay and disappointment we cry out to God, “Give us patience!” But patience is not given; it is grown. It does not arrive just the right size but must be stretched. Patience is less a gift and more a grace. It is shaped within us through the very times and challenges that provoke us.
If we think of patience as simply lasting through the passage of time, we rob its power. Patience is not just perseverance. Grumbling at slow traffic lights or overworked cashiers can’t be regarded as patience. Patience is the ability to wait with a spirit of consent. We need not agree with every delay, denial or difficulty; but we do need to welcome them as from God.
God is sovereign. He rules over our days - good and bad. The Creator has the wisdom and power to reshape all things into our good and His glory, even if He takes eternity to do so. (Rom.8:28) A posture of patience recognizes that truth and says,“ Yes” to God’s control moment by moment. Patient people exude a composure of trust in the now and hope for the future, because they’ve been shaped by the past.
We are not born patient. Trust is not our default stance. It is in the pressures of life that God proves Himself wise, powerful and loving. We learn patience through time and tribulation. (James 1:3) Patience learned in the first world war becomes trust in the second. The instruction of patience in the first Covid year can lead to an education of consent in the second. It may be that seniors have the advantage in this area. One reason patience is a quality reaped later in life, is that it has taken a life to grow it. I want to ask myself the right question. It is less, “When will this pandemic end?” And more, “Can I trust God even in this?”