When I was about 14 years old, my father attempted to get me interested in hunting. He bought me a one-shot shotgun, and enrolled me in a hunter safety course. Then, when November rolled around, he took me out into the country for deer hunting. I remember it like it was yesterday. There I was, sitting in the cold, alone, with my weapon. It was very quiet. Very quiet. The wind blew through the stripped tree branches and limbs. As the tip of my nose began to get cold, a thought crossed my mind: what will I do if I actually shoot a deer? I didn’t know how to clean the deer out. I certainly didn’t feel like dragging it out of the woods. After hours of sitting in the cold, I decided that this wasn’t for me.
I probably gave up on hunting a little bit too soon, because I was not a patient person. I still am not a very patient person. Yet, patience is essential for being a Christian. In our modern world, patience seems to be old fashioned. It even seems to be a bit offensive, that you would suggest that someone have the patience to wait. We are so used to instant results. If I need a recipe, I can find in online, almost instantly. If I need to buy something, I can find it online almost immediately. Any video or song is easily findable using digital media. Media does not help us grow in patience, and so much of our lives is regulated my media.
But without patience, we cannot be Christians! God does not act as we think He should, or even when we think He should. God allows some really evil things to happen. God is seemingly silent most of the time. He does not always bless our best laid plans. Often times, really good intentions are not rewarded. Further, bad things often happen to good people, and good things happen to bad people. We certainly would not have planned out the world the way that God did. Probably the worst thing that could have ever happened is that we would kill the Son of God, and yet we did. But God took the worst possible thing ever, the Cross, and made it the best thing ever, our salvation. God will do this to our sufferings as well, if we are willing to be patient.
How does one become patient? While many things in the Christian life call for a program of action, this really one really calls for a program of non-action. If we are waiting for someone, a part of our hearts must keep the vigil for them at the door. Advent is the season of waiting. While we are busy filling the world with acts of love, and disciplining ourselves, lest we sin, we must always keep a basic attitude of patience. We have to wait. Waiting on God brings us strength. Google search “bible verses about patience”, and meditate on the wisdom of God’s word regarding patience. God speaks about this virtue so much! It is not a dirty word, not an excuse for doing nothing. God knows what He is doing.
That is good news! For which one of us would have been able to win forgiveness from sin? Which of us would hold out the promise of divine life to people through Resurrection? Who could hold together this massive worldwide reality that is God’s Church? Do you think that Pope Francis is our Church together? You and I know that it is really the Holy Spirit! Francis does too. While we continue to plan a world that is predictable, controllable, and free of suffering (or at least suffering reducing), we continually fall short. Not only can we not eradicate moral evil, sickness, war, plague, and death from the world, but we cannot become the nobler creatures that we are all called to be.
We people can do amazing things, but God can do even more amazing things. Skyscrapers of major cities are impressive indeed, but they can only scrape the sky. Who made the sky? God, of course. We are given much to do in life. We have technology and human progress to move forward. But we must move forward by allowing God to lead us. This requires waiting, which requires patience. We need to believe that God can blow us away with His generosity! When we try to manage God’s will, we lessen His gifts. But when we accept God’s control over our life’s affairs, we experience huge blessings.