As I’ve pondered and preached on Jesus’ wisdom for us during this COVID season and beyond, one thing I’ve thought a lot about is patience. I know that patience is a fruit of the spirit, but it’s not a fruit that generally grows freely on my spiritual tree. This season is testing my patience, but also refining me into a more patient person.
While I’m certainly not a Type-A, go-getter personality, I’m also not good at waiting. And I’m probably no different than most. Our culture has bred us to expect immediate results—fast food, two-day shipping, curb-side delivery. We are used to expediency. We wait for nothing.
And, in fact, sometimes patience is treated more as a vice than a virtue. Don’t wait, push for results. Don’t delay, get it before it’s gone. Don’t save for tomorrow what could be accomplished today. Heck, I’ll even alter my route home from work in order to avoid being stuck at a stoplight. We just aren’t great at waiting…but should be. And Jesus can help.
Now, while Jesus does very little talking or teaching about patience in the gospels, he most-certainly demonstrates it. Like, for example, he waits thirty years to start his public ministry. And even once he gets started, he delays his grand ascension to notoriety by continually asking people to keep quiet about his ministry. Jesus feels no need or senses no hurry to accomplish everything and heal everyone. He patiently makes time to escape, reflect, and pray.
And Jesus is constantly patient with those in his life—those begging and pleading, desperate for his assistance and excited for his presence. He often made time for people when I might not have. I think of the story of Jesus feeding the 5000. It’s an exhausting day of ministry, so much so that Jesus puts his disciples in a boat and sends them across the Sea to get away. But not Jesus—the text says that he takes time to greet the people and dismiss them. All of them. Talk about patience. And then, perhaps his greatest show of patience is through how he handles his disciples—who constantly require his patience as they argue, misunderstand, and make mistakes. He never fails to make time for them, explain a parable to them, or help correct a misguided idea.
I don’t know about you, but in this slowed season of COVID, I want to learn to be a more patient person. I want to slow down, tune in, listen more, and be more present to my family, friends, world, and self. I want to remind myself, in moments I would typically be impatient, to take a deep breath and have greater perspective on how this patience-testing moment is really not as inconvenient as I think.
I’ve appreciated the natural rhythms of this season that are helping me take steps in building patience. I didn’t start building puzzles, during this quarantine, to help foster more patience; but it’s certainly helped. And I didn’t expect to have our kids home with us 24/7 during the months of April, May, and June; but it’s definitely helping me hone the discipline of patience.
I’m certainly not happy this pandemic has happened, but I’m trying to allow this unanticipated season of patience-building to shape me moving forward. May we all be better attuned to the work of the Spirit within us, so we increasingly witness the fruit of patience in our lives.