“But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you” (1 Peter 5:10).
GEORGE MACDONALD, A WRITER WHOSE OBSERVATIONS SHOULD NOT BE QUICKLY DISREGARDED, ONCE SAID THAT “THE PRINCIPAL PART OF FAITH IS PATIENCE.” Our first reaction might be to disagree and say that trust is the principal part of faith. But on closer examination, MacDonald does have a point. Every example of faith in the famous eleventh chapter of Hebrews is an instance of someone whose trust in God made him or her willing to work and wait and endure hardship. Because it has confidence in God, real faith does not give up. It will hold a steady course for a long, long time.
Sometimes we grow impatient because we have unrealistic expectations of life. We imagine that the good life would surely be one without any significant difficulty, and so we hasten as quickly as possible through periods of struggle. Taking it for granted that a person should “retire” as soon as possible, we are eager to get past our obstacles and reap the rewards of our work. But we’re not wise if we put such an emphasis on our destination that we fail to appreciate the journey itself. “The most glorious moments in your life are not the so-called days of success, but rather those days when out of dejection and despair you feel rise in you a challenge to life, and the promise of future accomplishments” (Flaubert). In the spiritual realm, this is the very outlook that is called “faith.”
When a person turns to God there is often the expectation that all problems will soon disappear and that following the path of obedience will be both easy and pleasant. The reality, of course, is that the journey toward God often takes us through canyons of darkness and difficulty. Especially in the beginning of our spiritual lives, it is often true that things appear to get worse before they begin to get better. Frankly, it is hard to keep from getting impatient. But here is where faith comes in. The principal part of faith is its ability to bear a heavy burden and still keep going. What most of us need to hear every day is what the Hebrew writer said to his doubtful, discouraged readers: “You have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise” (Hebrews 10:36).
“Are we there yet?” (Every Child’s Question).