Learning patience when we wait

Immediacy. A word that grabbed my attention when I attended a recorded worship service of First Presbyterian Church on Berkeley campus last Sunday. It was an interview of Dog Hewitt, a missions director of a non-profit group involved in efforts at refugee resettlement, helping them feel welcome, start a new life in the area, find employment, train for jobs, and acclimate to society and economy. In the sermon series entitled “Conversations with the Divine/Serving Others”, Pastor Tom and Pastor Charlene posed questions that led Doug to explain how God prepared him for a life of service, serving others as ambassador of Christ and partner with God.   An insightful question posed by Pastor Charlene touched on the expectations for immediate results from his work.  He emphasized the virtue of patience, realizing that God prepared him through all the years when he dreamed of living in the Colorado mountains. Instead, God has taken him to the city where he serves refugees trying to survive.  Trusting the hand of of God in his service keeps him from expecting immediate results.  After all, God is always working.

The virtue of staying patient and waiting for the voice of God – that struck a cord in my heart.  Honestly, a gentle rebuke for me.

Yielding to vulnerability, I here admit that I have transgressed to the realm of utter impatience.  In the context of my specific thought in mind, the mention of immediacy was relevant to what I had been feeling the past weeks.  Quick results were what I expected from prayers and home remedies for ailments of the past weeks.  I bombarded heaven with nagging prayers for healing and expected immediate results.  Perhaps, that’s human and normal when one is in pain.  First, experiencing a swelling in my right lower arm, wrist and hand, I resorted to home remedies to reduce the ache and inflammation.  Improvement came slow and gradual, but thank God, the pain and discomfort got so much better after a week.

With that recovery, however, appeared another swelling and pain in my right knee and leg.  Was my body playing games with me? I wondered.  Was my spiritual stamina being tested? Again, with much prayer for healing, I resorted to home remedies – a lot of turmeric tea for inflammation and some Tylenol for pain.  Nothing wrong with that.  But again, I expected big improvement with the passing of each day. Was God listening to my pleas?

As I share these recent experiences with demanding immediacy, I see that I’ve been indulging in an attitude born out of impatience and a restlessness to control a situation that likely was out of my control, no matter my efforts. Never neglecting to pray, I realized that my demands and expectations exacerbated the pain.  The truth is, humility can alleviate that restlessness to immediately find panacea, and maybe, that’s exactly the kind of remedy that abates the tension in my body.  My spiritual inclination tells me that being impetuous for immediacy is a kind of pride which augments the discomfort.  As normal as it may seem from a human perspective, it is a malady of the soul.

So, my listening to Doug Hewitt’s interview about his mission and social work was quite timely for me.  A powerful reminder that, miraculously, brought some mental, physical and emotional ease to my ailments. Formidable lesson – be patient, trusting and waiting. You’ll hear the voice of God – even in the midst of aches and pains — and that will bring comfort to the body, mind and heart.  God is working, even when we don’t see it.

Thank you for wondering – I am feeling much better today.

Linda P. Jacob