“Patience is painful. You teach it to me under pressure, frustrations, anger, and brokenness.”
Piercing heart. Pain that gnaws at your core. Tears that won’t seem to stop falling. And going through each day, praying that days will move forward. Fast. Yet life doesn’t work that way.
How can I be patient in today’s pain? In the “difficulties” and hardships of now?
When tears brim and fall, when the heart aches with every fear and pain, when we go through the motions, rattling and trudging along? How can I?
“And he who does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me…” Matthew 10:38
We’ve all been there. Financial drought to the point of not being able to eat. Persecution. Loved ones betraying you. Losing loved ones. Friendships going awry. Losing our dreams and desires. Struggles. Sin issues. A messed up life.
There are days when I want to go off, fast-forward the refinement process, and propel myself to that future where the script says I’m already honed to perfection or Christ-likeness. And I realized that might be where I’m making a grave mistake. To borrow the words of my fave blogger, our greatest daily temptation is perhaps to be impatient- to refuse to suffer. Perhaps my greatest daily sin is to refuse to suffer- to refuse to take up the cross of Christ.
Of course, who likes to suffer? To be broken? To be a mess? Yet it is always a possibility. And when it comes, you have to surrender. Carry the cross and be willing to wait. Suffering is a process and so is healing. It is a drift that entails trusting God. Just like Elisha who asked Naaman to wash himself in the “not-so-good” water (2 Kings 5: 1- 14) of Jordan, I also needed to dip into waters that may be dirty. I had to humble myself. I needed to learn to trust God and know that He will take me through this. And I had to learn that God won’t necessarily restore me right away. Restoration may not happen overnight. Remember Lazarus? The Lord didn’t heal him but He resurrected him. Brokenness may be a companion for a while but I understand that God does not only want to restore me but to resurrect my life. For that to happen, I needed to learn patience.
And you see, patience is something I’ve been having a hard time with (I’m talking about circumstances, situations in life and not people.) I’m an artist. I’m always hankering to see new things. Staying in any one place too long makes me antsy. But the past few days of crying out to God made me realize to a whole new level that I am a work of art that’s not yet finished, but still deeply loved. And aren’t we all like that?
“the word patience means willingness to stay where we are and live out the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us” –Henri Nouwen
And so I’ve become grateful. By God’s grace, I choose to gratefully accept where I am. That’s being patient. I’m facing the present. The now. Because it is where God is. I remind myself every time I want to breakout and dodge some things, a secret gift lies if I will wait patiently and choose to live fully into the moment. It may be the gift of patience. The gift of incomprehensible joy amidst everything. The gift of what is essential. The gift of a lesson learned. The gift of Him.
The night falls and as I create some accessories, I take one bead at time and wire and rewire it to near perfection. The strings (or the chains) and the beads don’t complain. I watch as I slowly design these little beads into something else. This is patience- letting the design take its natural course; letting the cuts, loops, crimps work on the accessory. This unhurried yielding to the design process.
The road may be long but here’s what He said:
“But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” James 1:4