My brethren, count it all, joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
Trials, the world’s oppression, take place with God’s permission. The issue is not trials per se, but our response to them. Properly received, trials reveal where our hearts are. They help to increase faith, which cannot remain static, but must grow or die. The Godly reaction to trials is joy and perseverance. Though difficult circumstances are from the Evil One, to be angry at circumstances is to be angry with God, who permits them. Sometimes, the only solution to our trials is patience — so let’s explore this!
What is patience? Merriam Webster says that it is the capacity to bear pain or trials calmly without complaint. It is to not be hasty or impetuous. I asked my fellow staff members the same question. Some related patience to dealing with the everyday issues of their campers. Others thought of love and of relationships — and more reflected on their faith. No matter what comes to mind, it’s a fact — patience affects every part of our lives.
There is no escaping it – we are forced to live and work with those around us. It is as Christians that we decide how we will interact with those people. When we are baptized, we put on Christ. We are also called to see Him in each other’s eyes. This is the focal point for the way we should treat each other. How you would act towards the Creator is how we should act towards each other. This attitude has a chain reaction. If you treat each other like Christ, then they will see Christ in you. The most influential saying I have ever heard is, “You may be the only Jesus some ever see.” Whenever I begin to lose my patience with others, I use this phrase as a reminder of how I am called to act. It is important that we are not only patient with each other, but with ourselves as well.
If we take a look at our lives, we see how much of our day is spent thinking about the future. I recently took a group of campers from two cabins on a 14-mile hike up Laurel Mountain. A majority of the weekend was spent asking questions like, “How much longer?” and “What’s going to happen next?” Though I tried to assure them that there was nothing to worry about, and to encourage them to enjoy what was around them, they had much trouble. I thought this was a perfect example: they missed so much of what they could have experienced because they were worrying about what would happen next, and if something better would come. We need to be patient with ourselves.
If you were to walk down the “self-help” aisle of a Barnes & Noble Bookstore, you’d likely find many authors trying to sell you patience. What we do not know is that patience cannot be bought — it can only be learned through our faith. Other people try to sell you the future — imagine that! Many, out of a lack of patience, turn to hotlines, horoscopes, and tarot cards to reveal the future. You may ask why people are so obsessed with knowing what is going to happen. Today, we are used to having control over many situations. If we are hungry, we can easily get something to eat; if we are hot, we turn on the air conditioner. All of these are “quick-fixes” for everyday situations. This is why we have the mentality that we can control our lives. The truth is, we are not supposed to know what is going to happen. So we must realize that it is useless to worry about those things that we cannot control.
“Good things come to those who wait.” If we think back to Scripture, we know that it was written that Christ would rise on the Third Day. During those three days, people wept and mourned — to receive a most miraculous event. We learn through this, that we must endure some pain in order to obtain joy.
We can easily associate patience with relationships in our lives. Just like any other situation that we think we need control over, we have the same attitude towards love. For whatever reason, whether it is pressure, loneliness, fear, or even boredom — we are not patient in relationships. I recently began to read the book by Joshua Harris, entitled I Kissed Dating Goodbye. One of the chapters is titled “The Right Thing at the Wrong Time is the Wrong Thing.” If we rush into relationships too quickly, we are likely to destroy something that may be good — if it was given patience and time to develop. In doing this, we are drawn away from the ways we are supposed to be serving Christ. Only God knows when we are ready to devote our lives to one another through marriage. If we have enough faith, we can trust that God will provide.
If we stop and think about it, it is much easier to not know what is going to happen. Every day, we create unnecessary stress in our lives because of planning for and worrying about the future. We all too often forget that we are not meant to know what will happen, but we are meant to be patient through our faith. If we trust that God will provide for us and take care of us, then we remove that much unease from our minds. A friend described a scenario that I think you might appreciate. We are like tiny ants on a giant checkerboard. We can only see what is directly around us. Sometimes things happen in our lives that we don’t understand. We often question why God would allow certain things to happen in our lives, but we cannot see the entire board. God does and He knows that although it may not always seem like it at the time, these things that happen or don’t happen are meant to help us. We may pray for things that we believe will help us in our lives and bring us closer to God (from that small area we see around us). But God may say no because this may actually take us away from the path we should be on. It doesn’t mean He is not listening; it’s just His way of taking care of us. Everything happens for a reason
For the powerpoint used in the Sunday School Lesson Given on the 3/10/2010 at St Barbara & St Noufer COC please CLICK HERE to download.