Patience is a virtue. Especially today, when the technology that surrounds us promises forms of instant gratification. You turn on your device or contraption – whatever it is – and you get the results you want within minutes, if not seconds. I can make a hot cup of coffee in less than a minute. I can send a text in a few seconds. I can watch a favorite program on TV or computer within seconds by pushing the “on” button. The flow of instant information accessible to us is amazing! I love to “Google” whatever is on my mind to discover, and the data or material is right there! You don’t even have to type or know how to spell anymore. Just talk to your gadget! We have been trained not to wait for what we want. The training is presented with a challenge in the real world of coping with life experiences. Much of what is important in life does not come instantaneously. It is a real virtue to have patience. We can notice it in little things. Standing in line at the grocery store while someone is looking for her wallet in her over-sized bag. Going from 70 miles an hour to less than 5 miles an hour on the Interstate – and you may never know exactly why. Waiting on the phone to resolve an issue with a business that takes awhile to find a human person to talk with. Trying to work with an apparatus that doesn’t work the way it is supposed to – according to the instructions. We have come to assume that what we need or want will quickly be available to us. So it is natural for us to become anxious when we are waiting for news concerned with something we care about; Test results, a grandchild’s birth, a call from the air-conditioning contractor – or from any serviceman you need in an emergency, a trip you are looking forward to, a healing from knee surgery that helps the pain go away, good news from a bad situation, patience with irritating people. We wish we were in charge of our life in ways that can make something happen. Maybe have an “on” button to push for an answer, a resolution, a need or desire granted. When our Bible was written, the world did not have access to immediate satisfaction. They could understand life has its rhythms; seed and harvest, pain that eventually comes to an end, seasons that come and go. Yet God’s people always knew there were critical things they needed to wait for. They had been slaves, praying for freedom. They had been an exiled people, waiting to go home. They were a people waiting for a Messiah to come. A common lament that we can echo today is “How long, O Lord?” For peace in the world. For healing. For an end to suffering. To be reconciled with someone who has hurt us. Patience becomes our trust and confidence in God’s timing. It is the virtue that realizes you can’t push the river. To be waiting gives us time to reflect on what we could be doing while we wait. Perhaps waiting is the call of God for learning a patience that will deepen our spiritual life.
Robert McQuilkin, Author