Of all the virtues, the one that is a stumbling block for our entire lives is the virtue of patience. As soon as we are able to communicate, we want everything now. We want food now. We want our parents’ attention now. We want that new toy now. As teenagers we want to drive now, we want a date with that girl in English class now, we want to get out on our own now. When we are out on our own, we want to drink alcohol now, a new car now, and a fancy apartment filled with fancy things now. One day we realize the world is bigger than ourselves, and what we want now is bigger and more profound. We want a politician who stands up for our morals and values now. We want an end to homelessness and poverty and unemployment now. We want an end to abortion now. We want a long-suffering loved one called home by the Lord now. We want the persecution of Christians to stop now.
When we don’t get what we want, when we grow impatient, that is the time when Satan slides over to us and offers us something that seems like everything we want. Oh sure, at first glance it appears to be the perfect solution to our problem. And after waiting so long for something, maybe even after praying for it fervently, when we’re offered something that will put an end to our long-held suffering, it’s so tempting to take it. But if we think through the seemingly easy fix, we realize that what Satan offers us is not a solution, but instead it’s a sin.
It is easy to lose patience. It is easy to build our debt to Jesus Christ as quickly as we build debt to creditors. It is easy to forget that it is God’s will, not our own, at work. It is easy to forget that things happen on God’s timeline, not our own. It’s easy to forget that sometimes God says “yes”, sometimes God says “no”, sometimes God says “maybe”, but God almost always says “wait”. Certainly, after twenty days on the ark, Noah wanted an end to the rain now. There were multiple times in the desert that the Israelites wanted to reach the promised land now. At the end of the first day in the belly of a fish, Jonah probably wanted out now. When He was being scourged, don’t you think Jesus wanted an end to His suffering now? And don’t you think that the Apostles woke up every morning praying that Christ would return today, right now?
In II Corinthians, St. Paul writes: “We are experiencing trouble on every side, but are not crushed; we are perplexed, but not driven to despair; we are persecuted, but not abandoned; we are knocked down, but not destroyed, always carrying around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our body. […] For our momentary, light suffering is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison because we are not looking at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen. For what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.”
Jesus got up every morning, full of the Spirit, to do God’s work. He was tempted by Satan in the desert. He was scorned by the pharisees. For every new follower he gained, another walked away, unable to part ways with the life and traditions they had come to live by. He knew that not everyone would be saved, He knew that not everything would be fixed in His lifetime, but He did God’s work anyway. He patiently served God, despite the moments of despair He certainly felt.
We cannot know the will of God. We cannot comprehend His plan or view the big picture through His eyes. We can only rely upon our faith in His righteousness and the goodness of His plan. But that does not mean that we can sit back and relax, assured that everything is on autopilot and that God will take care of it all. We each have a job to do. We each have a role to play. We were each given talents that God asks us to use for His glory and for the accomplishment of His will. Serving God is not an obligation… it is a privilege. It is a privilege to be called by God to do His work, to be given talents to invest as good stewards.
So go and fight the good fight, the righteous fight, whatever it is that God is calling you to do. Fight for life. Fight to do good for those less fortunate. Fight wickedness wherever you see it. Fight the temptation in your own heart to take the easy road, the road away from God. But whatever your fight, be courageous. Have faith in God’s will and God’s timeline. And have patience.