The Waiting Game

Listen:

Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. Beloved, do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors! As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

[James 5:7-10]

raphael02

Master Drawing, Raphael.

Patience is like a golden cord that accompanies us throughout life. Sometimes we have to stretch it almost to the breaking point before releasing the tension caused by a crisis. An inner voice of patience intervenes in the midst of our deep yearning, hoping, praying for resolution.

Yes, patience is a virtue and often a waiting game. But when paired with prayer and meditation it becomes a strong support in our faith journey. Hope against hope, yet sensing, understanding and trusting God’s presence.

Prime examples of patience are referenced in Old Testament Scripture: Moses, Joshua, Job, to name a few. Each was waiting, wondering, hoping for deliverance from heavy burdens.  I really cannot relate to Job’s patience in long suffering. My Biblical heroine of patience is the unnamed Samaritan woman at the well. She defied cultural mores and risked persecution from village elders to confront a man who dared to ask her for water. She exercised an enormous amount of patience to keep the conversation going because she had a nagging suspicion this person could be the long-awaited Messiah. And when He finally revealed His true identity, she ran to proclaim the Good News! Her persistent patience impacted an entire village.

Patience took on a deeper meaning for me during the 27 years I lived in the Middle East. Civil war in Lebanon birthed neighborhood “checkpoints” manned by armed militia, kidnappings, electricity and water cuts, rockets that reduced buildings and their inhabitants to rubble. Patience and terror became thin lines between life, death and destruction. But heartfelt signs of hope surfaced: sharing bread and buckets of water, fragile ceasefires, Muslim neighbors offering prayers and safe passage through dangerous streets, the faint glimmer of a twinkling star in a stark black sky. Be patient: God was present in the midst of chaos!

During this Advent season, I invite you to experience a different sense of patience as together we journey to Bethlehem. Embrace a joyful longing for what is to come, anticipating a miracle birth of the Christ Child. Practice radical hospitality by inviting a “stranger” in your midst to receive the greatest Gift of all time. Tune your ear to music of the first Christmas: sheep bleating, donkeys braying, a newborn Babe’s cry. Brush shoulders with simple, stinky shepherds surrounding a manger bed of straw. Follow the path of the brightest star in the eastern sky each night. And PRAY for PEACE on earth, goodwill among its inhabitants with justice for all.

We know the outcome of patient waiting: God sent His Son into the world that we might have Everlasting Life! What love, what a Gift! Christ is coming! ”And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

God’s patience with us will never fail and Advent seems a good time to improve our practice of patience in daily living.

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