Patient, Peaceful Endurance: Day 37
‘To be patient means to preserve cheerfulness and serenity of mind in spite of injuries that result from the realization of the good. Patience does not imply the exclusion of energetic, forceful activity, but simply, explicitly, and solely the exclusion of sadness and confusion of heart. Patience keeps man from the danger that his spirit may be broken by grief and lose its greatness. Patience, therefore, is not the tear-veiled mirror of a “broken” life…but the radiant embodiment of ultimate integrity…Thomas Aquinas, following the Holy Scripture (Lk. 21:19), summarizes with bold precision: “Through patience man possesses his soul.”’ (The Four Cardinal Virtues, Josef Pieper, p. 129)
Enduring losses for the good, for the Kingdom of God, requires patience. Though we may grow weary in wounding, we must not become mortally wounded, emotionally-speaking. We can draw from that Source that consoles us and redeems our suffering. Otherwise, we run the risk of what Pieper describes as the grief that dissolves greatness. Patience is the way and the fruit of entrusting holy efforts, however unsuccessful, to Christ Crucified.
Let’s start with good grief. Grief becomes good when we acknowledge the losses endured for the Kingdom. And surrender our battered hearts to Jesus. He always shows us the narrow way of suffering that leads to life. I can always tell when I am on the broad path of managing pain. I slalom from denial (‘don’t let that get you down; don’t complain; just trust God, NOW!’) to drifting out to the sea of melancholy and self-pity where I am utterly alone and may even be tempted to believe God has let me down.
That’s why Pieper describes despair as the ‘most dangerous sin of all.’ Why? Despair ‘decides against Christ’ by refusing to allow Him to help us bear the loss. So we own the loss and invite Jesus to assume it in His wounds. He frees us to feel our pain as He surrounds us with everlasting, tender Arms. Acquainted with grief, He redeems ours so that a potential pothole of the soul becomes an intimate encounter with the Crucified. Despair averted; Holy Love wins. He frees me to refuse every temptation to despair. God is right in the middle of my suffering, redeeming it.
We might benefit from two other things. In our fight for the dignity of future generations, which includes challenging in love LGBTQ+ assumptions, we contend against principalities and powers, not people. We love each person generously, no matter what has possessed them. We go after the robber himself, our common enemy, who wants to destroy our friends by hijacking their powers of life and love. We seek patiently to open eyes blinded by an unseen and probably unacknowledged deceiver. No person is our enemy; Satan alone is our adversary. Hate him, not them. Vie to love the most bitter and vengeful persons.
Second, give your best in the battle and prepare to lose. Most of my efforts for the Church and public square have not been ‘successful’ in the worldly sense. I am OK with that. I don’t serve the world; I serve Jesus. I do what He asks. When I strike gold (I currently am shepherded by a marvelous, Living Waters-immersed pastor; we worked successfully to help CA’s AB 2943 come to nothing), I am surprised and grateful. I try to be equally grateful when I try hard and nothing apparently comes of it. I now see patiently. I don’t know God’s endgame in that person’s, church’s, or government’s life. He does, so I can trust that my efforts are not in vain, even if I am deprived of participating in an immediate victory.
Remain buoyant. God is with us.
‘Free us from the grief that dissolves our greatness. Free us for You in our little losses. Keep our hearts fixed patiently on You--Your will be done--even if we cannot see the result. Free us from the mortal wound of despair. Keep our hearts free as we seek to be agents of freedom for “whosoever will.” Grant us patience as we fight our common enemy who has blinded many. Remind us to rejoice with those who now see.’
‘Jesus, thank You that we are first and foremost citizens of Your Kingdom. Your saving purposes, the plans of Your heart, endure forever (Ps. 33:11). Patriotism and its partisan efforts must bow before “Your will be done.” “The eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, who hope in His unfailing love” (Ps. 33:18).’