Devotion - June 30

Psalms 146-150, Proverbs 30, Luke 13:6-9

Patience

Essential to love (1 Cor. 13:4) - a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22) - a characteristic divine virtue to which we owe our salvation (2 Pet. 3:15). Boy howdy is it difficult ...
Reflecting on the difference between patience and waiting, I wonder what distinguishes one from the other. Patience requires waiting of course. Each appears outwardly inactive. Each involves a subject being acted upon. “You’ll just have to wait” usually means “there is nothing you can do except” ... wait.

So what is the distinction between waiting and patience?

Faith is one distinction. If I patiently wait for bread to rise or fruit to ripen, I believe that something is happening as I wait – an activity is underway that is more important or appropriate to the desire outcome than my own direct action. Viewed this way, patience is the faithful action of withholding action or influence, of resisting despair or anger, in the belief that restraint on our part is essential to a fruitful outcome. Patience is the humble recognition that we are powerless to produce the outcome we desire by our direct action. In contrast to simply waiting, patience embraces restraint as direct action. Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently before him ... Psalm 37:7

Maybe in this way patience is the transformation of inactivity (waiting) into the activity of self-restraint for the sake of the other – which is love. We don’t say that Jesus was waiting in suffering. We say Jesus was patient in suffering, resisting the temptation either to despair or to destroy his enemies. Jesus’ restraint was direct action on our behalf. Jesus’ patient restraint was also an act of faith in God’s activity – God’s unseen direct action. This is patience as both love (for the sake of the other) and faith (belief in God’s activity).

Faith … love… and an act of hope. But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for hit patiently ... Romans 8:25. Patience stands upright in the full dignity as someone created in the image of a patient God. If waiting demands that a person bow to their own helplessness, patience stands upright in the faith that restraint is engagement in the work of God who is greater than all. This is the paradox of patience – it requires humility at the same time that it lifts up the humble who are bowed down.

Faith, love and hope. Patience prayerfully believes that God is at work in every circumstance, and approaches every circumstance as an opportunity to enact self-restraint for the sake of the other. Faith and love – in the hope that the kingdom of God, like leaven or seeds will expand and grow through this humble choice.
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