Do you ever feel as if life is coming at you from all different directions? Have you noticed that, so often, family stuff, and work stuff, and stuff-stuff seem to all happen at once?
The truth is — if you’re alive, stuff will happen to you. And if you live long enough, lots of stuff will happen to you. And sometimes, it even piles up. When that happens, what do you do? Well, if you’re like me, you fret over it. You lose sleep. You try to fix it. Or ignore it. Or wonder why. And you start asking questions you can’t answer.
But the truth is, most of the stuff I tend to do when life gets hard is not very helpful. It doesn’t help me navigate the stuff very well, nor does it really change the stuff. So, if worrying doesn’t work; if losing sleep isn’t helpful; if asking unanswerable questions leads nowhere, what should I do? Just sit back and do nothing?
No. And yes.
When the Bible calls us to is patience. The kind of patience that is a sign of the Spirit; the kind of patience that believes the Lord will come; the kind of patience that helps us endure; the kind of patience that inherits the promises. The kind of patience that says: I can’t fix what troubles me. In a way, biblical patience is recognizing what I can’t do. But at the same time, patience isn’t passive. It is a tenacious holding-on to the God who holds on to us; the God who walks with us through the things we face.
You see, biblical patience is a No — and a Yes. It is a No to all my striving — but it is a Yes to the promise that I am not alone. So, when I am tempted to try to tackle my stuff by myself, or run away from it, biblical patience invites me to face it, without fear, but with faith — knowing I am not alone. Therefore, patience is a Yes — to God, his grace, and his guiding presence. And patience is the faith that says: no matter what I face, God is here. God is here.
And where do we most clearly see the “God who is here”? We see that now, in this season — the season of Lent, leading up to Easter. We see the God who is here in the God who was here — Immanuel, God with us. The cross and the empty tomb are God’s greatest gift to patience — because they point us to the reality that God has not left us to face our stuff, our struggles, or our sin, alone. He is here. With us. With me. With you. No matter what we face.
I know I need that kind of patience. How about you?