When I come across a thought I have read which intrigues me or offers a fresh perspective, I will mull it over throughout the day, discuss it with others, even seek to apply it. “Countercultural patience” is just that kind of thought. It is a term I came across when reading through a blog from The Gospel Coalition website discussing the re-opening of church buildings as states started to reopen their economies in early summer.
For those of you who follow this blog, you may know that I do not consider myself a patient person. I may not verbally nag someone, shout or express impatience, but I will actively persist when action is required. This kind of tenacity-call it steadfastness or perseverance-is what this blog post is about. James 5:11 says “Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.“
It is with patience we respond when others do not meet our expectations (although admittedly in my case, patience might be accompanied with an eye roll). It is with patience we respond when God says “not yet” in response to a specific prayer request. Patience enables us to press into the good, the bad and the ugly in ourselves, in others and in our circumstances. Patience is an attribute of God’s character, and it is one which he gives us as a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). God also chooses to teach us patience through a growing understanding of His character as revealed through the Bible and through the people and circumstances He allows in our lives.
We remember His faithfulness through life in events big and small-through the losses, the trials and the good times-we persevere with an abundance of joy, knowing that Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, has already done the heavy lifting. And this is something that only Jesus, who was both fully God and fully man in the Incarnation, can do.
All Jesus asks of us is to respond in faith, placing our trust fully in Him as Lord and Savior of our lives.
As my dear friend Rosa recently reminded me, we do not need to change in order to take those first steps of faith; we simply need to spend more time with Jesus. Take the time. He will not disappoint.
It is by sitting in His presence that we can grow in countercultural patience when storms surge around us. It becomes a patience that goes beyond any natural human character attribute.
It is here that we can thrive in the midst of whatever life brings.
“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:5-6, NIV).
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