Patience is defined as “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting upset or angry.” As Dr. Phil would say, “How’s that working for you?”
There is no doubt the coronavirus is testing all of us. Our tolerance for not being able to do what we want, when we want, is coming to the limit. We miss our family, friends, church, stores, and entertainment. These past weeks have been hard on everyone. Add in the fact that we have no idea when this social distancing and social isolation will end, and you have the recipe for anger, depression, fear, and anxiety.
Patience is a major theme in the Bible. In the Old Testament, the prophets continued to call Israel to trust in God despite the trials of the day. The prophets called the people to suffer patiently and know that God had not abandoned them. In the New Testament, patience is presented as a virtue. The Holy Spirit is the source of patience and St. Paul includes it in the list of the fruits of the Spirit. In some Bible translations patience is called “long suffering.”
All this teaching in the Bible sounds beautiful and wonderful, but our problem is two-fold. We are used to immediate satisfaction (thanks to microwaves and Amazon delivery) and over time, we expect things will change for the better. This virus has hit us hard because it is bigger than we are, and positive change has happened slowly. No one knows when we will hit the apex and when life will become somewhat normal again.
This virus is big. However, this virus is not bigger than God. It may be overwhelming to our patience, but it is not bigger than the Creator. We need to stay close to God and let Him be our strength in these tough times. We need to pray for patience and kindness toward each other. Kindness and compassion will get us through this period of time without doing harm to relationships and people we cherish.
This virus will pass. Our freedom will come back, although it might look and feel a little different. Holidays and family gatherings will return. In person church services will happen again. Perhaps when they do return, we will value and appreciate them in a new way. It may be awhile before we can shake hands or hug each other, but that will come in time as well. In the meantime, we are called to practice patience and trust in God. We need to be intentional with our kindness toward each other. As our control issues flare up, we need to look to God and tap into the patience, kindness, compassion, and hope that only He can give. If we do, when this is all over the bi-product of these bad days will be that our relationship with God will have grown and we will have learned to trust more deeply in His care.