The value of patience

THE California gold rush of 1849 attracted thousands of people from all parts of the United States and from many distant countries. Most of the people came to search for gold in the streams and rocks of the northern California foothills. They hoped to strike it rich, to make plenty of money in a very short time. A second group that came to California during this period was composed of storekeepers, blacksmiths, hotel managers, and so forth. These people sought to develop profitable businesses over a period of many years. The storekeeper, for example, hoped to earn only a penny or two by selling a pound of flour, while the gold miner hoped to become instantly wealthy and happy by finding thousands of dollars worth of gold in just a few weeks, or even in one day. Who do you suppose was more successful? The record shows that a rather small percentage of the gold miners actually ``struck it rich''; and just a few of these lived to enjoy their fortunes. Frequently their gold ended up in the hands of thieves. On the other hand, many of the storekeepers, blacksmiths, and hotel managers gradually earned financial security and often became respected members of new communities. Through steadiness and patience they accomplished things that the gold miners only dreamed about. Most worthwhile accomplishments involve patience. The Bible counsels, ``Let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.'' 1 We have no record in the Gospels that our great Master, Christ Jesus, was ever in a rush. Jesus provides us an example of serene thoroughness, not haphazard irritability. He accomplished great things through calm persistence. And he left us this succinct counsel: ``In your patience possess ye your souls.'' 2 Seeing the great value of patience, however, is only the beginning. We must learn to live with Christly patience, and this means detecting and wholeheartedly resisting temptations to be brusque, short-fused, or impulsive. Not an easy task for some of us! But through the study and practice of Christian Science, one can gain, each day, a better understanding of God's nature, and this is an invaluable help. In Christian Science one learns that God is constantly supplying man with all good, and that He never presents His children with cause to be hasty, angry, or frustrated. Whether we're facing a severe challenge or a more mundane one-- stranded in a long line at a store or spending precious time in heavy highway traffic--we can realize that God's love for man is an unchanging fact. Since this love constantly surrounds us, we always have the ability to live with patience and inspiration. When we look behind expressions of impatience, we usually find selfishness or prayerlessness. Selfishness urges us to get ahead of others as quickly as possible and at any cost. Prayerlessness leaves us feeling outside God's presence and not needing to wait for His direction or provision. Many have found that such impatience has a host of unprofitable by-products. But it really isn't necessary for us to be impatient. Christian Science, in accord with the Bible, points out that God has made man ``very good.'' Man's God-given identity does not lack anything, is not frustrated. And this is the fact of our being, right now, the only reality, because God is the one and only creator. It's natural, then, for us to be thoughtful of others and peaceful within ourselves. Neither agitation nor a cause for agitation has a place in the man of God's creating. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, was ever faithful to the teachings of Christ Jesus. In her writings she urges mankind to live ``in patient obedience to a patient God.'' This line comes from the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. The full passage reads: ``Self-love is more opaque than a solid body. In patient obedience to a patient God, let us labor to dissolve with the universal solvent of Love the adamant of error,--self-will, self-justification, and self-love,--which wars against spirituality and is the law of sin and death.'' 3 As we surrender to the omnipresent government of divine Love, we'll have no patience with impatience. We'll abandon the ``self-will, self-justification, and self-love'' that impel us to rush rudely through certain activities. We'll come to see each moment as God's moment. And we'll discover that patience is ``as good as gold.'' 1 James 1:4. 2 Luke 21:19. 3 Science and Health, p. 242.{et

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