“Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise . . .” (Hebrews 10:35,36).
WHAT THE HEBREW WRITER SAID IS CERTAINLY TRUE OF ALL OF US: WE HAVE NEED OF ENDURANCE. We may enjoy some of our days in this world, but others we must simply endure. And even the enjoyable days must be “endured” while we wait for the best day of all: the day of our Lord’s final appearing (Hebrews 9:28).
Patience is a wonderful quality in general, but I think we sometimes need to be more patient with ourselves. In regard to our spiritual growth, we expect too much too soon, and we find ourselves developing a crabby, ill-tempered disposition. “After all the effort I’ve put into it, why aren’t things getting any better?” But we should understand that as long as our earthly pilgrimage lasts, we will never be anything more than “on the way” to our destination. Or to change the illustration, we will never be anything more than “works in progress.” We see the need for patience with other people — why can’t we be more patient with ourselves?
It helps to be reminded that growth, whether physical or spiritual, is an “incremental” process. An increment is a small change in something, so small as to be barely perceptible. And that’s how growth usually occurs: by small changes. So what we must do is patiently make regular investments in our growth, trusting that the result will be seen later, even if we can’t see it right now.
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2–4). Isn’t it interesting that James says we must let patience have its perfect work? We can go through all the growth-producing events in the world and not be profited by them if we give up before the process is complete.
But we must make sure patience with the process of growth does not turn into complacency. We must accept the fact that growth doesn’t take place very quickly right now, but we must never tolerate the fact of no growth — for not to be growing is to be dying.
“Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still” (Chinese Proverb).