“‘You have done a foolish thing’, Samuel Said. ‘You have not kept the command the Lord Your God Gave You; if you had, He would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time‘”. 1 Samuel 13:13

“Therefore Jesus told them, ‘My time has not yet come…..'” John 7:6

“After Jesus said this, He looked to heaven and prayed, ‘Father the hour has come. Glorify Your Son that Your Son may glorify You.'”. John 17:1

“Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become restless and disturbed within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him..” Psalm 42:5

Patience is a…..virtue?, burden? overrated? obstacle? in short supply? (Note: “Patience is a virtue”; is not a quote from the bible, it is attributed to Cato the Elder)

Are we running out of patience? Is patience keeping us from action?

So let’s start; what is there to be patient about? There is a lot happening these days; what with, wars and pandemics, mass shootings, bombings, hate crimes, climate change and the list goes on. Especially, when these types of events impacted numerous people, it has been a mainstay to offer and exhort the offering of “thoughts and PRAYERS as a way of facilitating comfort and restoration.

Here’s why I want to ponder patience in connection with these happenings and offering of “thoughts and prayers”. It seems that recently, while there is still a very common and sincere desire to offer and exhort the offering of prayers for comfort, there is a, perhaps small but perhaps growing pushback concerning that sentiment, that “thoughts and prayers” have little to no value. Seemingly in some way, that praying is some cop out for not doing any real substantive, effective action. There seems to be a sense that we can’t afford to wait on some future response to some offered prayer, that may or may not match what we feel is the needed solution. What we need is action NOW! And if God is not going to act as we’d like, it then becomes up to us! Also, perhaps, out action is just as good as God’s!

Dear Sisters and Brothers, one of the greatest blessings of the Bible is the teaching it can give us about living. You see Saul had a pretty dire situation. There were enemy troops on Israel’s border and more were coming every day. As King, Saul felt responsible for the defense of Israel. Saul also felt that he needed to take immediate action to defeat the enemy. As more enemy troops arrived, Saul’s own troops were getting scared and less motivated to fight. There was one major problem. Saul was a king, appointed by the Will of God. As such, he wanted to honor God by sacrificing to Him before going into battle; to not have a sacrifice would be a grave blunder and put victory in certain jeopardy. Yet by law, God’s law, there were only a few, a priest or prophet who could appropriately offer sacrifices to God. Unfortunately there were none available to King Saul at the moment. He believed the Prophet Samuel was on his way, but time was wasting and the threat was growing. So Saul lost his patience with the delay. Saul felt that action, any action was warranted over doing what was right. Saul offered his own sacrifice which was just ending as Samuel arrived. It is said it is better to beg forgiveness versus waiting to ask permission. King Saul might disagree. Because of his impatience and subsequent rash action King Saul was advised by Samuel that the kingdom would be stripped from him; which it was indeed done later.

Now please understand, this is not a diatribe against action or even immediate action to relieve pain and suffering; far from it. It is a reflection on the possible discounting and devaluation of putting our Heavenly Father at the center of our actions even it there is time needed for discernment, versus taking what we believe to be equally valuable and effective human action sans prayers or thoughts of the Almighty.

Jesus Christ knew about timing and patience during His earthly ministry (and of course still does today). On several occasions the Gospels give accounts where mobs were going to either stone Him or throw Him off a cliff and they did not succeed. Not because Jesus would never die at the hands of men, but that the appointed time and circumstances for that death had not come. When the time came, a small, scared, weak mob was able to arrest, try, convict and kill Jesus. Jesus had the patience to put the Father’s plan first and patiently live into it. Thus Jesus Christ lives and lives at the Right Hand of God the Father Almighty.

So what is it that you or someone you know is struggling with today? To you or them, this struggle may be as completely overwhelming and tragic as the most horrendous mass shooting or act of hatred. The world may be screaming at you to act and act now. Additionally the world may be warning you that to include prayers, to include time for calling out to and awaiting an answer is a fool’s errand and an extremely dangerous delay. The world may be proclaiming to you that either you yourself, or the world has all the plans and resources necessary to solve all your problems; you should look no further. If you are feeling tempted in that way; I encourage you to remember King Saul.

The Holy Spirit that resides in you is exhorting you to be like Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ prayed to God throughout His life here on earth. Even during the stress and despondency of Jesus’s time in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus reached out in prayer. And God always answered. Jesus Christ knew to be patient. Jesus Christ knew God’s plan, including timing is perfect. Jesus Christ was at peace in and because of His interaction with God. We can be too.

Let the world rail against prayer as a waste of time. Let us make it a priority to put prayer first, even when we act; having complete faith in the perfection of our Heavenly Father’s answer both in its solution and its timing. Patience in God is a virtue indeed.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we understand that we live in times where speed is a primary measure of effectiveness. The faster the better. Forgive us when we are tempted to apply that worldly standard to You and Your Plans. Forgive us when we are tempted to and actually go with our own actions, foregoing Your counsel, because we are impatient to wait upon You. Strengthen our spirit of patience in You that we might faithfully reach out to You in all things and be supplied with strength enough to wait for Your perfect reply. That being in peace and alignment with Your Plan and Will, we will live confident lives that bring praise to Your Holy Name. We pray in the Name of Jesus Christ. Amen