‘Let patience have its perfect work’

In today’s column, a woman shares how she found a greater capacity for patience in her interactions with others while patiently and persistently praying for the healing of a physical problem.

Christian Science Perspective audio edition
Loading the player...

My daughter and I devoured episodes of “The Great British Baking Show” like warm slices of bread fresh out of the oven. The contestants delighted us with their creative baking, and the judges provided expert feedback with warmth and good humor. On one show, one of the judges, a master bread baker, gave a rare piece of advice to the novice bakers: Be patient. Their challenge that day was to make ciabatta, and it was soon clear why patience with the rising process was key to the “perfect bake.” The contestant who waited the longest before putting her bread in the oven ended up with the star loaf.

I came away from that episode thinking about the real-life implications of that advice. For me, an important part of daily life is prayer – communion with God and listening for and following the direction that comes from that practice. So I thought about how this analogy of patience and leaven might apply to prayer in a way that brings meaningful progress and even healing to our lives.

There’s a story in the Bible, a parable, by which Christ Jesus illustrates the nature of the kingdom of heaven. He tells of a woman taking leaven and putting it into three measures of meal. The result was that the entire mass of what was baked was leavened (see Luke 13:20, 21). One thing this conveys to me is that when we quietly seek to understand the wisdom that is from God – the infinite Spirit that created us in its likeness – and internalize the truth we learn, we can undergo a change in thought, transforming us from the inside out. The result is a clearer view of a heaven we can experience right here on earth.

That present possibility of heaven is explained in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” by Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy. It defines “heaven” in part as “harmony” (p. 587). So the natural result of prayer to see the spiritual reality of God’s love and care for all includes healing (restoration of harmonious functioning in the body) as a result of spiritual transformation (uncovering a harmonious mental state that’s inherently within us).

Sometimes it can take patience to see such a turnaround. But I’ve found that doesn’t mean there isn’t progress going on under the surface, and knowing that can encourage us to keep up the good work. I recall a problem I had with my leg and foot that prevented me from walking normally. This happened during an active time, when we had our children’s end-of-school-year activities to attend, including our son’s high school graduation. We also had family visiting from out of town.

I knew from experience the power of an understanding of God to resolve such problems, but this difficulty persisted longer than I would have hoped. Despite that, I recall those few weeks of prayer as punctuated by a sweet, growing sense of God’s loving care and protection. The Bible reassures us 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 1:3, 4, New King James Version). I felt the promise of this, along with a sense of God’s care for me and a confidence that this condition was no more permanent than rain clouds hiding the sun, because it wasn’t part of my real nature as God’s spiritual and whole creation.

As I prayed with these ideas, there was daily indication of progress. I became less concerned with what my body was doing and more interested in expressing Godlike qualities, such as kindness and joy. And it wasn’t long before I was back to my active lifestyle, participating fully in family events, hiking nearby trails, and moving about with my usual ease. One of the greatest gifts, though, was an increased capacity for patience in my interactions with others, which I’ve felt more consistently ever since.

Science and Health explains, “When we wait patiently on God and seek Truth righteously, He directs our path” (p. 254). Healing isn’t always about patience. I have experienced quick resolution of many problems through prayer. But when patience is required, it isn’t about putting up with untenable conditions. It’s about facing problems with a sense of confidence that God, divine Truth, is always active and helping us gain a higher, more spiritual understanding of life – just as leaven helps the dough to rise. And when patience has “its perfect work,” the result is healing.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to ‘Let patience have its perfect work’
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today