“Thank you for your patience; we will be with you as soon as possible”. We hear this countless times when we are trying to call a business or talk to someone in customer service. We have become accustomed to expect results immediately! With smartphones in hand, we are constantly seeking instant communication, instant answers and instant gratification. Time is precious, but unfortunately we have become a society that is not at peace with waiting. When we obtain peace in our mind, we learn to practice patience, and when we learn to be patient then we are at peace.
We misuse time when it comes to our faith as well, and expect immediate results on our terms. God wants us to ask Him for what we want but at the same time we must be patient and wait for His time and His will to be done. Prayer is a means of transforming us to allow God to be in control of our lives, which reflects spiritual growth and maturity.
Just as child is not born the day after conception, not all prayers are answered the next day either. The nine months that a child is in the womb gives the mother and father time to adjust, transform and prepare for this new chapter in their lives. Those nine months are transformative through both its challenges and joys.
Even God waited to become flesh and become man and grow as a child. He waited to be crucified not so that our sins are forgiven, as Saint Isaac the Syrian wrote, but to show us how much He loves us. He waited and became incarnate for humanity and its salvation by making the ultimate sacrifice for us – giving Himself up on the Cross.
We all encounter people who frustrate us, but it is important to remember that God is patient. You are His child and so is the person you might strongly dislike. Jesus was patient with His disciples for three years! He was patient with Judas, giving him many opportunities to change his ways. We cannot change others; we only hope to inspire them by our actions as Christ did. We must not expect others to change for they will create their own consequences. We must be patient for our anger to transform into compassion, and for our hate to transform into love.
It took Moses 40 years to lead the people of Israel out of slavery and out of the desert. His patience was tested by the people he was trying to help. It took the Greeks over 400 years to be freed from the Ottoman Occupation. History gives us many examples where patience brought forth positive results and progress. Being patient should not be interchanged with being careless or procrastinating. Faith and works are important ingredients. Having patience is having the wisdom to know what we can and cannot control.
The Saints in the church endured and prayed for patience. Saint Nectarios was cast out of Egypt out of envy and rumors. Time revealed the truth. Time healed his heart and dried his tears. Time transformed the Saint and those around him. This why we look to the Saints for inspiration, for guidance, for patience. While we pray to the Saints to intercede for us, ultimately we pray to Christ. We are not to fear Him with terror, but to approach Him with a grateful heart, with awe and love. He wants us to come to Him. When we look to the Saints to pray for us, we are looking at people who have also endured struggles just like us, but because their lives centered on Christ, they can inspire us and fortify us in our faith.
Having patience is a challenge for all of us. Waiting is frustrating. Not knowing results can be agonizing. We must pray for peace and patience to endure what we are confronted with, and in time, we will be transformed. God has led us this far and He will continue to lead us on our journey through life and on the road to salvation with patience and faith.
~ Rev. Father Christos Kanakis, Proistamenos
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church
Long Beach, California