Patience

WHEN I began working full time after college, I found myself in a job I didn't like. The days seemed to stretch endlessly as I wondered why I was in such an unsatisfactory position. Why weren't my talents being recognized and used? Why should I have to endure this? Well, of course, I didn't have to endure it. I could have left the job. But that option didn't seem appropriate. Despite my distress, I felt intuitively that I should stick it out; that nothing would be resolved by my leaving; that there were lessons to learn.

In retrospect, one of the biggest lessons -- and one that I continue to learn despite my sometimes vigorous resistance! -- was that patience can be vital to our progress. But I found that patience isn't simply unhappily enduring a negative situation. Genuine patience is characterized by a willingness to listen for and humbly yield to God's direction. Then our waiting becomes less a time of frustration and more a period of spiritual growth, forwarding the progress we desire.

From my limited perspective, the experience in that first full-time job was largely one of frustration and delay. But afterward I came to see the growth that had taken place, growth that was indispensable to the greater demands that followed. The good I desired hadn't really been delayed, because progress had been going on all along.

A central message of the Bible, illustrated so vividly in the life and teachings of Christ Jesus, is the immediacy of God's provision for His creation. We learn from the Scriptures that God's love for man is unwavering. But we also need to bring our thoughts and lives into accord with the divine will in order to accept His care and work out our salvation. And this may require patience.

Sometimes the demand for patience reflects a deeper need to understand God better as universal Love, the sole provider of good. We often tend to push for certain things to happen according to our own will and limited viewpoint, whereas the greater need is to yield in prayer to our creator's perfect government. This may be contrary to what worldly instincts and the opinions of others would suggest that we should do. Yet we can never lose by exercising our inherent spiritual sense and looking to God for direction. ``It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord,''1 the Bible says. And if we're inclined to think that good can come from any other source than God, we might remember that the New Testament teaches, ``Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.''2

Our true selfhood, our genuine being, is as God's spiritual image, the very outcome of divine good itself. Though circumstances may point to an apparent lack of what we legitimately need, patience can help us begin to see beyond this false sense to the spiritual reality of man as always including all good. Through prayer we can glimpse the higher view that shows us the transforming influence of God, divine Love, reflected in our lives. As Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, counsels, ``Wait patiently for divine Love to move upon the waters of mortal mind, and form the perfect concept.'' And she adds, ``Patience must `have her perfect work.'''3

Certainly we shouldn't allow ourselves to be pushed around by injustice or misfortune. And we won't be when we're willing patiently to wait on God, knowing that His care is constant and provable.

1Lamentations 3:26. 2James 1:17. 3Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 454.

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