I have never done a search to see how many times the word for “patience” is used in the New Testament – but my general impression is that it is a lot. Patience is not only a virtue, it is utterly necessary to our life in Christ.
I can recall having almost no patience at all as a young man. At age nineteen I was sure that the Second Coming could be no more than 5 years away. When older people would speak about patience I found myself getting angry with them. I believe that I generally thought patience was the excuse older people used for doing nothing.
Now I have come to see that patience is often the wisdom of doing nothing. This is not the same thing as laziness. One can work hard and pray, and be aware of how little they in fact know about the things that matter. What does another soul need for his/her salvation? How do we correct another soul in such a way that something is learned and you haven’t just crushed another human being?
This part of my list could be magnified enormously. We are to have faith in God – which is where patience comes in to play. Having placed something into God’s hands, we often have a secret timeline in our mind. If God has not done anything about it in a week, then we’ll see to it ourselves – as if the slowness of God’s timetable gives us permission to ignore God.
Commiting something to God may mean waiting the better part of a lifetime. This was the case with the patriarch Abraham. Salvation moves along at an almost imperceptible pace. Grace does it’s work in such a way that it frequenly remains hidden to most eyes. If you read about the Holy Spirit (what little the Scriptures say of Him) it is clear that He is the most silent and hidden of Persons.
To pray, keep the commandments and to remember God is the task we have before us everyday. With patience these will accomplish a perfect (complete) work.
This morning I drive in a rental car from St. Vladimir’s Seminary to Syosset on Long Island. Everyone around me speaks of traffic jams. Time to learn patience.