For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Romans 8:24-25, NRSV)
These are trying times that present severe challenges to the mental health of individuals and the well-being of communities. From nagging fear that loved ones (and even we) might contract COVID-19, to the difficult task of making decisions about what is safe and not safe to do; from the stress of spending so much time alone, to the strain of spending so much time confined with another person or persons; from the certain loss of a job or reduced income to uncertainty about what the future holds; from the grief of loved ones lost to the loss of in-person connections to others: living through the pandemic makes many of us feel anxious, exhausted, irritable, depressed, and sometimes simply overwhelmed. Not all day every day, but often enough that we are hurting. In various ways, for example, physical pain, fatigue, or just the tone of our voices, we can feel the tension in us and in our relationships.
For me the words of Paul to the Romans are helpful and reassuring. Saved by the grace of God through Jesus Christ, we believe that the reign of God is already present among us—but only in part. We wait with hope for the full revelation of God’s love and glory. “Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”
If we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. These are wise words for our time. We are invited to put our trust in God and hope for the end that we cannot yet see. And yes, we are asked to wait for that end with great patience: patience with ourselves and patience with one another. I want to be patient with myself when my energy is flagging or my words betray my frustration. I want to be patient with others when I can see and hear that they are weighed down by the burdens of our time. Because we know and trust in God’s love for us, we can wait with patience for the end we cannot yet see.
In the words of Egyptian lawyer and preacher Adel Bestavros, “Patience with others is love, patience with self is hope, patience with God is faith.”
Prayer Focus: Calm
Prayer: God whose breath gives life to every human being, refresh my spirit this day. Calm all the winds blowing inside me. Slow my heartbeat. Restore my breathing. Teach me to be patient with myself and others. Teach me patience in all things. Amen.