“Be patient, brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains.” – James 5:7
Patient waiting is a difficult discipline. Our contemporary culture places little value on waiting. Anything that does not seem efficient or productive is considered a waste of time for us. We turn to our cell phones, iPods, gamepads, etc… while waiting for a flight, for the rain to stop, for a friend’s arrival, for the end of a workday, for a meeting or class to end. We distract ourselves with activity to pass the time away. Yet, patient waiting is not just passivity until something else happens. It involves living more fully the present moment to make space for God to work, for hidden gifts to unfold, for seeds of grace to grow. It does involve some suffering, for the word “patience comes from the Latin verb patior, which means to “suffer.” Such suffering may take the form of a dying to one’s preferences, wants, agenda, timeline; it may take the form of letting go, of paying attention to what is happening here and now, especially feelings of discomfort and uneasy.
As we learn to wait this way, we grow in trust that God is present and actively working through these moments of seemingly un-productivity and waste of time. We can also develop a deeper attitude and capacity to listen – to ask: “Lord, how are you present and communicating to me at this time, in my present circumstances?”