In the midst of so much unsettling world news in recent weeks, perhaps not enough attention has been paid to the power-sharing agreement between the republicans of Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party that went into effect in Northern Ireland on May 8.
Resulting from the efforts of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and of former US Senator George Mitchell and former President Bill Clinton, the agreement took much perseverance. But it also required patience. Sometimes one must wait for the right moment for former enemies to find a way to agree. "How poor are they that have not patience!" cried Shakespeare. "What wound did ever heal but by degrees?"
We all need to practice patience – all the way from waiting for the red light to change to green to waiting for some life-purpose to work out. In the first instance, of course, you know the light is going to change, and learning to wait without fretting is all that's called for.
In the second, you need more of the patience that the Northern Ireland agreement exemplifies. You must be willing to trust and to let all the elements in a situation work out. Maybe someone else has to make the first move, or the time just isn't yet right for a particular project to come to fruition. And the required patience may rest on a breadth of experience that teaches you just how important – and spiritual – this quality is. "Divinity alone solves the problem of humanity," wrote Mary Baker Eddy, "and that in God's own time" ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," p. 306).
Waiting for God may be the perfect place to start. This doesn't involve anticipating the right time or the right place or the right people to fit into our plans. Instead, it means trusting His willingness to show us the way and to bring together all the elements of any situation.
What we may need to see better is the underlying purpose of whatever we're trying to bring about. If it's something that seems progressive – what Mrs. Eddy called "the perfect concept" – we can identify with the spiritual fact that all constructive ideas exist in harmony in the divine intelligence, or Mind, and that these ideas always come together at the right time.
"Wait patiently for divine Love to move upon the waters of mortal mind, and form the perfect concept," Mrs. Eddy wrote in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." "Patience must 'have her perfect work' " (p. 454). And this waiting includes prayer to see more clearly what that concept is that God, divine Love, is forming.
We also need to go easy on ourselves. Most of us do not work as tirelessly as we could, or always in a straight line. There may be times when we know we're not thinking as clearly about a situation as we should. But this is not the time for self-deprecation.
The writer of the letter to the Hebrews in the Bible must have had some sense of the ups and downs of human experience when he wrote that we should "run with patience the race that is set before us" (12:1). If we lose patience with ourselves or others, we can resolve to do better next time and not to dwell on any given instance where we might have failed.
There are lots of opportunities to "run with patience" in the races many people enter daily – getting children ready for school, a tiresome daily commute by car, an office situation where tempers flare quickly.
It's not naive to think that the same effort that produced a positive change in Northern Ireland can be duplicated elsewhere. You can continue to pray that patience, combined with diligence and the spiritual conviction that peace is the natural condition of God's children, will help resolve even a situation as difficult as that in the Middle East today.
Adapted from the Christian Science Sentinel.