Have you ever played the game UNO? If you recall, the game is about getting rid of all 7 of your cards before anyone else. And when you have one card left in your hand, you’re supposed to shout, “UNO!”
Have you ever played the game UNO with someone who would shout “UNO” before they only had one card in hand? It’s almost like they want to get to the end of the game without doing the work to get rid of their cards.
They want to achieve, but they don’t want a time limit.
They want to beat the other players but don’t want to wait.
They aren’t patient. But neither are any of us. Not naturally, anyway. Patience isn’t something we’re born with, ready to share with the rest of society. It’s not something we’re used to because we live in a now world where everything is at our fingertips – instant gratification.
But to receive everything you want the second you want is not a biblical concept, a healthy concept, or a sustainable concept.
No one likes being physically in the middle of things—for example, the middle seat on a plane or the middle of the street. No one likes it because it’s incredibly uncomfortable, and there’s not a lot of stability. It’s transitional at best. You’re heading towards something, but you’re not there yet. You’re not where you were, but you’re not where you’re supposed to be.
As the Church, as followers of The Way, we live in what’s called the Already, But Not Yet. The paradigm argues that we are actively participating in the Kingdom of God, although it hasn’t reached its full expression yet.
The Already is that Christ has come, conquered sin, and is coming again one day for His church.
But the Not Yet is that sin, while defeated, is not eliminated. Just check your news feed. The Kingdom of God is not completely on Earth as it is in Heaven.
But we are called to this discomfort.
The definition of patience is like an onion. It has layers. Patience is the capacity to accept or tolerate delay.
Patience is a controlled response to uncontrolled circumstances in life.
Trouble and suffering don’t care about your relationship status; they find you whether you’re in a relationship with Jesus or not. The difference between us and the world is that our anger at the situation is under control when trials come.
Blowing up at anyone verbally or physically and keeping it inside isn’t ok. Just because it’s not happening on the outside doesn’t mean you’ve accomplished the act of patience.
It’s a call to the Gospel to put others’ needs, wants, unexpected changes, or suffering ahead of your emotional response. To be controlled both inwardly and outwardly.
You know what psychologists say about trauma: It’s what results when someone experiences suffering ALONE.
Trauma is when severe pain cannot find a relationship home in which it can be held. ~ Robert Stolorow
We, as believers, are a family called to a new vision of life, which is communal. So here, when James says, “Be patient, brothers and sisters,” it’s not an individual, be patient. It’s communal. You’ll be patient together.
It’s easier when there’s a family doing something together. Instead of naming one person to do a chore, think of the difference if every family member pitched in and did it as a group. You walk in patience together.
So, when we work on being patient, we’re not supposed to do it alone. We support each other.
In the Gospel, Jesus died and rose again, and then in the first chapter of Acts, Jesus ascends back into heaven. First, the disciples stared at the sky, looking at where Jesus had gone up. Then, it says two angels appear.
We believe that Jesus will one day return. When will this happen? No one knows, and it’s here that we truly embrace the call to patience. The preoccupation or obsession with figuring out end dates or times doesn’t embrace the call to patience. We’re called to endure our times with patience until His return.
We believe in Jesus’s second coming. So, we can accept trouble, delay, or suffering without becoming angry together as the family of God because we trust that at the end of all things, Jesus will return, and all will be made right.
Just because something is true doesn’t always mean it’s helpful or easy to wait for. Because in the actual moment of suffering, delay, or sorrow, how does Christ’s eventual return help?
Many of us have worked next-day delivery into our relationship with God. We think if we ask for it, it will happen right away. But often, God gives us the right things at the right time.
The only answer to these questions is that God moves at exactly the right time for exactly the right reason. Whether He moves on our behalf right away, later on, or not at all, we trust Him in how He reveals Himself in our situations or when He ultimately returns.
So, we should think of this verse as:
Be willing to accept trouble, delay, or suffering without getting angry, together as the family of God until He reveals Himself in your situation or He comes again.
And how exactly do we start this process?
We need to remember there are no skip cards.
In UNO, there’s a card that allows you to skip someone’s turn. So, you can rush through someone else’s situation to get back to what you’re doing. But there are no skip cards in life, relationships, and spirituality. You can’t avoid the difficulty. You can’t speed up the process. The journey of becoming more like Jesus takes time and isn’t something we can rush through.
When we read this verse, we often focus on the “together for good” part. But we need to focus on the “all things work together” part.
God is working in our lives, whether we see it or not. So, whether He works in our present circumstances or at His ultimate return, we can embrace patience without becoming angry because we know He’s working. He’s working in the situation, but He’s also working in YOU.
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