Trust in God!

Are you a patient person? Are you patient with yourself, with others, with the world? Or do you like things done—and done perfectly—lickety-split?  Do you like immediate results? And only the best results?

I admit I can be impatient—with myself, with others, ok, let me just admit it: with the whole world, and, yes, even with God!

Which is kind of funny because God is, well, the most patient One of all. We see Jesus teach this in some of his parables, where seeds are planted, and the planter just patiently waits for things to take their course, to develop and unfold. The truth is: this is the patience of God and it is really Good News.

Just look at the story of creation. We now know that our Universe is 13.7 billion years old. And life didn’t appear on Earth until about 4 billion years ago. And we human beings (homo sapiens) only showed up around 315,000 years ago. And what about this: religion—human awareness of God and gradual relationship with God—only developed 3000 years ago!  Evidently, God is very patient indeed. God lets things unfold, develop, evolve, flourish and grow at their own pace.

This is good news for all of us! Yes, we may want things done yesterday: we want to be fully developed, we want to have worked on and conquered all our weaknesses and faults. We want to be and “feel” mature and complete and wise. We want to be perfected—now! 

And that doesn’t even include what we expect of others and the world itself: we want others to just “get it” and “get on with it.” We want our church, our country, our world to be perfect, with all injustices made right. Why, we ask, does it take so long? Why does it seem I’m still struggling with the same character defects that I’ve had for years? Why do I still feel “incomplete”? And why is my Church still so unlike the one she professes to follow? Why is their still so much racism and sexism, so much economic inequality and violence and poverty in our world? Just how long does it take? “How long, O Lord?”, we cry with the Psalmist.

Yet this very longing makes us one with God, who longs for the full flourishing of every thing God has ever created. God’s sole desire is the fullness of all life in God’s own Life of Everlasting Love. And yet God is very patient. God won’t force anyone or anything. Yes, God will be ever present, sustaining, loving, healing, forgiving, entering every diminishment with Love that gives new life and new opportunities. And yet at the same time, God will let each of us grow at our own pace, according to our own nature.

Moreover, we all know (usually after a long period of learning!) that we can’t change the world. We can’t even change ourselves—not without God. Yet our patient God never fails us and is much more patient with us than we are with ourselves.  I have always found these words of my hero Teilhard de Chardin very wise, consoling and helpful. It’s a long quote, but worth reading and re-reading:

Above all, trust in the slow work of God. We are all, quite naturally, impatient in everything to reach the end without delay. 

We should like to skip the intermediate stage.

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 with 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 you tomorrow.

Only God can say what this new spirit gradually forming in you will be.

Give our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you and accept the anxiety of feeling your self in suspense and incomplete.

Ah yes, so much is “in suspense and incomplete”; so much seems to be in a “stage of instability”: our country, our Church, the world and me! 

Yet instead of being frustrated, anxious or angry, Teilhard reminds us to, “Trust in the slow work of God!” Behind it all, in it all and through it all, God is working, doing what God always does: passionately loving you and me and everyone and all of creation and the entire Cosmos, in ways seen and unseen. And we know without doubt that the slow work of God leads us all to a safe, happy, joyful and rightful place in the mustard tree, together with all the birds of the air, making a nest in the shade of God’s eternal love.

Peace and every good,

Father Liam

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