Lord, give me patience — and hurry

Lorraine Murray
Lorraine Murray

Have you ever stood by the microwave, wondering why it’s taking so long? Do you expect people to answer texts immediately? Welcome to the Club of Impatient People, whose membership list includes yours truly.

Here’s a typical example: I was driving downtown behind a car going 10 miles per hour. As I inched along, my impatience grew and I began gritting my teeth. Did this guy need GPS to find the gas pedal?

I reminded myself patience is a rare commodity in a society where “quick and easy” are sacred buzzwords, but still, I grew impatient with myself for being so ... impatient!

Fortunately, some things can’t be rushed. It still takes nine months for a baby to develop in the womb. It requires hours to make bread that is kneaded by hand.

The blueberry bushes are budding in my yard, which means berries will show up this summer. Alas, the squirrels will devour them before they ripen, since impatience evidently isn’t just a human trait.

Relationships can’t be hurried either, because people slowly reveal bits and pieces of their personality — which calls to mind the adage “Marry in haste, repent in leisure.”

Prayers sometimes take years before we see results, but impatience with God makes no sense, since he knows what we need, and when.

Fortunately, the Bible has comforting passages, when it seems God is moving slowly. “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer,” the Apostle Paul advises.

In James, we read, “See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth … You also, be patient.”

Jesus was patient with his disciples, who sometimes seemed clueless about his ministry. At one point, they got into a boat with him and bemoaned having packed merely one loaf of bread.

“Do you not yet understand?” he asked them. “Are your hearts hardened?”

He reminded them he had fed 4,000 people with seven loaves, and 5,000 with five loaves — with leftovers remaining. He was dropping an obvious hint that he’d never let them go hungry. They probably stared at him blankly, because he asked again, “Do you still not understand?”

Saint Monica was a third-century African Christian, who patiently prayed for years that her playboy son Augustine would convert to Christianity.

Her prayers were answered, and Saint Augustine eventually became a bishop, who wrote a spiritual memoir, “Confessions.” Monica remains a reminder to worried parents to never give up on their children.

The Bible promises mourning will turn into joy, but we know healing takes time. The psalms bring comfort: “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage.”

How can we become more patient? We can say a prayer when frustrating events happen, such as a toddler pitching a fit or a long line forming at the grocery store.

We can pray when we’re stuck behind the guy who’s driving at an amazingly low speed. Also, it can be fun to invent explanations.

Perhaps he has a newborn in the car or is transporting a crate of eggs to a soup kitchen. Or maybe God has planted him there, so we will earnestly pray for the gift of patience.

Lorraine is the author of eight books and also writes for the archdiocesan newspaper of Atlanta. Her email is lorrainevmurray@yahoo.com

In Other News