Patience worth waiting for
At one time or another, most of us have encountered a feeling of impatience—perhaps paired with restlessness or anxiety—with ourselves or someone else. We may think of impatience as something that rises up when things don’t seem to be moving fast enough, and of patience as just passively resigning ourselves to or putting up with something.
But there’s another way to think about the concept of patience—as active and productive. When patience is grasped as a spiritual quality of abiding constancy and stillness that allows us to hear God’s guidance, whatever the circumstance, great good is possible.
Such patience is a gem, for—as the Living Bible puts it—“when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete” (James 1:3, 4). Thinking of patience coming to full bloom not only is beautiful imagery but alludes to patience as always flowering and flourishing instead of running out or becoming stagnant.
There’s another way to think about the concept of patience—as active and productive.
The teachings of Christian Science, which spring from the powerful truths in the Bible, recognize everyone as the offspring of divine Spirit, God. It follows that we include divine attributes—such as steadiness, balance, and strength, which all relate to patience—in our Spirit-created identity. Thus we have the full authority and power of God behind our expression of patience, our genuine desire to let God rather than willfulness lead us. This growing realization strengthens our conviction that we have everything we need to meet problems of all kinds.
Some years back, my husband and I encountered numerous roadblocks when going through a normal legal process. Over the years we both had seen many proofs of the power of prayer to reveal the harmony of God’s presence when it didn’t appear to be there. So it felt completely natural for us to pray about this situation.
Yet I began to feel quite agitated and impatient when, for months, phone call after phone call yielded no solution, and hearings that had been scheduled to sort out the problem were continually postponed.
It was only when I began to ground my thought in the spiritual fact of the activity and supremacy of God, good, that a new view of the situation came. Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, explains, using “Mind” as a synonym for God, “The real jurisdiction of the world is in Mind, controlling every effect and recognizing all causation as vested in divine Mind” (p. 379).
I started to see that glimpsing even one spiritual fact brings our God-given patience right into our experience, even in a moment when it seems totally out of reach. Letting go of impatience—and the other unhelpful traits that often appear to go along with it—is natural when we come to realize that such tendencies don’t come from our loving God.
The conviction about God’s supreme jurisdiction that began to grow in me through prayer enabled me to remain balanced and constant. I can’t say that there weren’t fretful days, but reasoning out from this divine basis always brought a sense of patience, expectancy of good, and guidance when needed.
Glimpsing even one spiritual fact brings our God-given patience right into our experience, even in a moment when it seems totally out of reach.
One day we felt inspired to call a particular legal official. Surprisingly, we reached this person on the first phone call, and we explained the entire situation. She knew exactly how to resolve it and took care of it right then. The whole situation was reversed in minutes, and we were able to successfully finish the legal process at hand.
Patience is something that is needed every day, whether we’re waiting in traffic or working on a project or whatever else may arise. Even when we feel as though our patience has run out, we can turn in prayer to God, patient divine Love, who is always there to comfort us and guide our steps. Wholeheartedly trusting in God’s uplifting presence and obediently following divine direction enable us to take possession of our God-given patience. Then the only possible outcome is being blessed by Love’s abundant good.
Originally published in The Christian Science Monitor’s Christian Science Perspective column, June 28, 2022.
The Living Bible, copyright © 1971. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.