I am writing this prayer prompt the day after the election. The night of the election I decided not to check the election results until the following morning, although I confess, I did sneak a peek a couple of times on my phone during the night. When I awoke the next day, the lyrics of a song adapted from one of St. Teresa of Avila’s prayers floated into my mind.
“Let nothing disturb you, nothing distress you, while all things fade away, God is unchanging. Be patient for with God in your heart, nothing is lacking, God is enough. Be patient for with God in your heart, nothing is lacking, God is enough.”
(Here is the link: https://youtu.be/IKpWgAtfCRE)
Part of me wants to argue with Teresa because her prayer can seem naïve. Except when I remember that this woman of tremendous energy and accomplishments lived at a time when her sex was disparaged, her work opposed and her faith questioned by the Inquisition, and I realize she was not an escapist. She was a reformer within her own tradition.
So how do I wait? I wait with some anxiety, but also with expectation, that regardless of the outcome of this election, God is enough. Enough to keep going, to continue to hope, to pursue work for righteousness and justice. And that means that for the moment that I need patience.
I have been babysitting my infant granddaughter this fall. She is 6 months old and whenever she sees a bottle (or her mother!) she starts cooing, and rocking, and then lunging towards her desire as if she had never been fed before! Learning to wait is not yet on her skill chart! What is heartwarming in a baby, however, is annoying or even distressing in an adult. Have I learned to trust God in the delays to my prayers, in the postponement of my hopes? Do I have the patience to wait and trust that God is working, that His Kingdom is coming, that the Gospel will advance, despite any delays or disappointments?
In his letter to the church in Colosse, Paul thanks God for the Colossians and prays that they “may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God. May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light.” (Colossians 1:10-12 NRSV)
He reminds me that my life is to reflect a broader perspective, one that keeps Jesus as the center of my life. I’m encouraged to continue to work for God through the strength God gives me so that I can stick it out over the long run. And to develop spiritual muscles, exercising my faith patiently and continually, without giving up. To be persistent and joyful at the same time. This feels like a tall order, but the promise that God’s strength is available and enough enables me not simply to endure but also to persist. To give thanks for God’s grace in my everyday life. As I grow in the knowledge of God, God helps me to wait patiently. Like my little granddaughter, I will continue to struggle with delay, (small or large!) but with God’s help I will also learn to wait patiently, knowing that God is enough.
“Lord God, we thank you for another day filled with your grace. Help us to live in the sufficiency of your grace that we might grow in patience and endurance. We want to know you more and to do the works of your Kingdom to which you have called us. Fill us again with your strength. Prepare us to endure patiently knowing that you are always at work. Give us glimpses of joy throughout the day that we may remember to thank you. We have all that we need in you! In the strong name of Jesus, Amen.”