The Courage of Patience

There are seasons of our life when all we can do is put one heavy foot in front of the other. It’s tempting in these dreary places to think that something is wrong, that we must muster our energy or our faith and maneuver out of the long sludge. Around a breakfast table recently, someone asked me how I was. I sighed deep. “I’m tired, but I’m surviving.” Another pastor at the table chided me. “Surviving? You better be doing better than that.” Well, I wasn’t. And truth told, I was rather proud of my survival. It’s certainly better than the alternative.

The Scriptures tell us to be patient and to wait on the Lord. We often envision this patience as something born amid spiritual fervor, a kind of contented restfulness as our prayers settle on our still hearts – and we wait. Often, however, our patience, if we’re to call it that, comes when we’re at the end of ourselves, after we’ve exhausted all other alternatives. Over years, contentment and patience can become a pattern, a way of living with trust, with open hands. In the mean time, it’s find to just strap in tight, grip a hand near you and ask God for mercy. God’s fine with that; God has more patience than any of us.

St. Teresa of Avila offers a blessing for these moments, reminding us that all things pass, that the dark hole which threatens to consume is smaller than it appears. St. Theresa reminds us of the one essential: We can live in the very place where we are, this very place, because God is with us. And God is always enough.

Let nothing upset you, let nothing startle you.
All things pass; God does not change.
Patience wins all it seeks.
Whoever has God lacks nothing:
God alone is enough.

12 Replies to “The Courage of Patience”

  1. Thanks, Winn, for the authenticity of your words. I also rejoice at your consistent ability to speak hope even from the weary places. I consider it a gift to receive such blessing from you words. Keep scratching for beauty.

  2. I read this earlier today after Kelli shared it and I just wanted to tell you I know this place you are in, I’m living it, also in the midst of ministry leadership. Appreciate your honesty.

  3. As a nurse, the persistence of patience may be exactly what a patient needs from me. My mother (who is a pastor) has often told me I have the patience of Job… And I often reply, “No, I strive for the patience of Christ. And therein, lies serenity.”

  4. One of the reasons I love scriptures is that they don’t do the “put on a happy face” thing. Instead, they itch and moan to God and wait. And wait. And itch some more if they need to. It’s real and oh-so-human. Besides, the world doesn’t need a bunch of happy slappy Christians who seem to have no problems and never struggle. They need real people who can walk compassionately alongside them.

words have a way of making friends. drop a few here.