I enjoy occasionally reading history. Encountering just how our predecessors lived and pursued their dreams or avoided their nightmares. In contrast to our experience today, what always stands out is the lack of immediacy historically.
Letters from family would take weeks to be delivered. Journeys across seas would take months. Snap decisions appear rare. Meals took longer and the way of life was slow. Historically, for a long time in the story of humanity, slowness dominates.
The age we dwell in now is quite different. We expect immediacy. Food is fast. Letters arrive instantaneously. Crossing oceans takes hours not months. Order something from one side of the world and you can usually receive it within two days. I was struck by this over the weekend waiting for someone to respond to a text message and conversely, waiting to replay to someone else’s text.
I am thankful for the immediacy of our moment, most of the time. When I want a quick response or book from a thrift store in Texas. But I have been thinking through how the embrace of immediacy has ruined us for a pandemic. How, because we don’t seem capable to wait, we run amok with the time we have. We get restless, despondent even.
Now, I am not making a statement about schedules for the return to life as it was. I too want to meet with friends, see commerce thrive, and for the love, gather as the church! But I also want to protect my neighbors (and my children), and have determined to let my pro-life views extend to all corners.
But it is still frustrating to wait.
That frustration is teaching us something. Especially for the Christian. It is teaching us of transformation and one key area for it. Our patience.
This is the exhortation from James: “Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 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.” James 5:7–11 (ESV)
I have an old friend that says “don’t pray for patience because God will force it on you.” And it kind of has been forced on us (so which one of you was praying for patience?!) Forced or not, with our souls rooted in the future, the coming of Jesus, we are called and equipped to be patient.
Perhaps God is using this moment to teach us to slow down. To transform us into those with established hearts, trusting him with patience. Time rolls on. We will see it through. Because Jesus has seen it through.
Are there things you can “let go of” because you have lost patience in pursuit of immediacy? I have a pretty long list myself. Let’s surrender those to Jesus and be settled on him. He carries us through.