How many of you I wonder have heard or ever been told that “Patience is a virtue” Currently we are all having to be patient, waiting to see how long before our lives can return to normality, or whatever the new normality will be like. We all have times in our lives when our patience has been tested. I recall one time as a student when I was returning to England from USA and the flight time was constantly being delayed and I was then thinking of the family back in England and wondering how they would cope with the flight time delays and the waiting time to collect me from the airport. I was so looking forward to seeing my family and Roy again, yet getting very agitated at the delays! There were no mobile phones then to help us out. Everyone of us can be impatient for the right and wrong reasons in our lives, and you could argue that every day our patience is tested with what is, or is not, happening; the times when we need really it to happen soon. It might be something trivial, like waiting in traffic when we need to get somewhere quickly, or something vital like waiting for a friend’s Covid-19 test results. We are called to be patient; it is one of the Fruits of the Spirit, though I fear most of us need to practise patience.
I read recently of a wonderful scene from the film “Evan Almighty.” A modern Mrs Noah was becoming exasperated by her husband building the ARK outside their home and wishes that she had more patience.
Now Mrs Noah happens to be mentioning this to God who, at the time, is sitting next to her in a burger bar where he’s working (in the disguise of Morgan Freeman who had previously appeared in Driving Miss Daisy)! God suggests that if we ask for patience, we would surely be given situations in which to practise patience. Don’t you sometimes wish you hadn’t asked the question? But I am sure the answer is worth mulling over, and as we look back there may well have been many opportunities in our life where we could have practised patience, though I wonder how many of us would have recognised this at the time?
Whilst reflecting on our impatience, I read this poem (see below) written by Pierre Tielhard de Chardin SJ (1881 -1955).
Patient Trust Above all, trust in the slow work of God. We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay. We should like to skip the intermediate stages. We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new. And yet it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability and that it may take a very long time.
My mum’s response when people were asking “How long?” was usually, “In God’s own time.”
As is often stated, being a patient person can be a testing time for us, but I have also read that research shows that our patience is linked to good health, helps us achieve our goals, and that patient people are better friends and neighbours, and enjoy better mental health: (see website link to these details).
So, as we have learnt at this testing time when our lives are frequently being changed, let us ask God to strengthen us as our patience is frequently tested.