With patience we can learn to grow in faith.
My baby niece came home from the hospital the other day. What a blessed miracle. How impatiently we had waited for her to be stable enough to enter into the mundanity of family life.
We are not a patient family!
There were times when even the minutes seemed endless as we waited for updates while her condition was critical and unstable. We lived a lifetime in those moments. Some of those praying with us, lived a lifetime too. All of us in an ecstasy of impatience. How the seconds dragged along while we waited for God to work his wonders through the miracle of my niece.
These days, everything has changed. Time passes quickly. My sister has a lot to do. She runs around after her older son (who is a toddler). She breast feeds, expresses (so that she can tube feed my niece because she must have breast milk to grow), tops up feeds using a feeding tube (which must be set-up and cleaned with each feed because my niece is too weak to finish a feed, but needs to grow). She changes nappies, administers medicine, settles her new baby. And then there is the cooking, cleaning and washing, like most mums.
Of course, we help where we can, but there are certain things that only a mother can do – and so my sister does them. And she does all of this on a strict three-hourly schedule - day and night - because her daughter desperately needs to gain weight and not one feed can be delayed. My sister does all of this while organising medical appointments and scans for her daughter, of which there are so many that she keeps a whiteboard with lists on it just to keep track.
This experience with my beautiful niece has caused me to reflect on patience.
All my life I have prayed impatiently. I have waited impatiently. Just ask my children what happens if they “go slowly” in the morning and they will explain impatience personified.
As soon as I heard about St Teresa of Calcutta’s “quick novena”, which is a series of ten Memorares said in succession (nine for your request and the tenth in faith and thanksgiving of God hearing your prayer), I was on to it. Perfect! The “fast food” of prayer. Get it done and get it sorted and then move on with your “life”. The perfect novena for the impatient pray-er.
How silly I was!
After Christ was arrested, He was tried before seven judges. Seven! Seven courts unjustly heard His case and passed Him around from one to the other, without regard to His innocence, His family, His future, His life, or His human dignity.
During that time, when judges repeatedly washed their hands of Him, Christ said nothing – not even in His own defence. He waited calmly, in pain, and with patience – for God’s will to be done.
I imagine such a feeling would be like allowing a cockroach to crawl into your mouth and explore it while you waited patiently with your mouth open until it was done and had moved on. Our sins make us like the cockroach, and yet Christ remained patient and loving with us even after His death.
Not once during this time did Christ lose patience. Not once - despite His physical suffering, including the scourging, the beatings, the spits, and the blows. Not once – despite His emotional suffering, including the mockery the insults, and the taunts. Not once – despite his social suffering, including the desertion of His closest friends when He needed them most. Not once – during His mental suffering, including the knowledge of all past, present and future sin, which is itself such an offence against God that He sent His only Son to redeem the world through His sacrificial death.
Not once – did Christ become impatient.
No. Christ stood patiently and waited while we – who were so inferior to His infinite goodness, mercy, wisdom, fortitude and truth. We – who He had come to save. WE – decided what to do with HIM.
He waited patiently in Truth for our impatient disregard of Truth.
And still God waits for us, as our loving Father. Each time we stumble and fall and think we have done the worst of the worst sin and could never be forgiven. Every. Single. Time. God is waiting for us with open arms. Lovingly. Happily. Patiently. To take us back to Him.
When Christ says, “Follow me.” He does not give us destinations or time frames. Not one apostle or disciple knew where Christ was planning to go or what Christ was planning to do. Not one of them understood his plan or even his message at first. Yet all of them got up immediately and without question and followed when he called.
Though we are as children to God, surely we can hold ourselves to account and stop ourselves from asking, “Are we there yet?” like a broken record while God uses the events of our lives for His purpose and goodness?
What I have realised with my beautiful baby niece, is that we will never be “there” until we are “there”, with God in Heaven for Eternity. Until that moment, God is driving this car. All He really wants us to do is to just sit down, buckle up, and be patient.
God, who is infinite goodness, is working everything in our lives for the good. Everything that we experience or encounter is so that we can know God and trust in him. It is for Grace. Both the good and the bad in our lives is for Grace – if only we are not afraid to use it.
So though my “life” was on hold over the last month and a half while we waited for my niece to heal enough to come home from the hospital, one thing I have come to realise is that maybe my “life” always will be on hold now.
Now, my dear friend Nancy needs prayers, she is very, very sick with cancer and needs prayers for strength and recovery and health. Now, I pray for niece AND Nancy. Yet as I pray for these two special souls, others come to mind… the lost souls in Purgatory, my loved ones, those who live without peace or faith, strangers who are having a bad day, and of course all those who prayed with us for my niece.
So, you see, for me now, because of the great and profound miracle of my niece, my “life” will always be on hold – because the only thing that matters is not this life but the next.
Eternal salvation is one reward I can learn to wait for with patience.
And who knows, it might even make the “go slowly” mornings in my house, just a little bit more peaceful, because with my niece everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.