This year I asked God to give me a particularly difficult and challenging Lent. Let’s just say he has been answering my prayer continually since Ash Wednesday. Numerous times in the past few weeks I have found myself entering into a new challenge (or a new chapter in a continuing challenge) wishing I could do something to resolve things as quickly as possible. Of course if I could make that happen, I would be missing incredible opportunities for grace and growth in my spiritual life.
How many times have we tried to “wish away” the more challenging and uncomfortable times in our life? We wish for quicker healing from illness or injury, we wish the week-end or retirement would come faster, we wish we could graduate sooner, we wish winter was over, etc., etc. Then one day we arrive at the point we were wishing for and we look back at “the good old days” and wish we were back there now.
Patience is a gift not easily obtained. At some time or other we recognize the need for patience but we want it to happen at the snap of our fingers. In other words, we want to be able to turn patience on and off like the kitchen faucet. Of course we all know that is not how patience happens. It happens, well, by being patient.
In the midst of my personal Lenten challenges I was reminded of a prayer I ran across several years ago. This prayer has helped me through many rough spots in my life and I want to share it with you. I hope you will find it helpful at some time in your life as well.
Above all, trust in the slow work of God. We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay. We should like to skip the intermediate stages. We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new. And yet it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability – and that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you. Your ideas mature gradually – let them grow, let them shape themselves, without undue haste. Don’t try to force them on, as though you could be today what time (that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will) will make of you tomorrow. Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be. Give Our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ
Let’s not wish away the blessings of Lent. Let’s bask in the challenges it offers and praise God for the gift of patience.
Deacon Bill Radio