The virtue of patience can only be experienced in the period of waiting. How will you ever become patient if you are never given the opportunity to wait?
Our Lord is the giver of holy patience. Patience is not a gift that we beg God to give us. Most of our prayers are about ending the period of waiting we are currently living. Only the Giver of Life values the gift of patience, and He does not wait for us to ask to receive.
Advent is a season of exploring the virtue of patience. It is a brief exercise in recognizing the holy goodness of the wait. In Advent, we are forced to wait four Sundays before we arrive at the joy of Christmas. The gift of Advent is that when we allow our souls to sink deeply into the joy of waiting, Christmas becomes more fulfilling. We don’t have to face the reality that a perfect Christmas morning is not created by all the frills, smells and presents that world insists will make us happy. Rather the meaning of Christmas is the fulfillment of what our souls most need—a Savior—and the promise that He will return as surely as He came the first time, after the nation of Israel’s long wait. James 5:7 says:
Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains.
Acceptance is the key to waiting with patience. Just as a farmer waits on the seasons he knows will come before the valuable crop, so we wait through the seasons of Advent knowing that Jesus came the first time as a babe and will return as the Savior of the world.
Advent has much to teach about holy patience. We must be patient with ourselves. It feels impossible to tend to our souls in the midst of the pressures piled up because of Christmas. We are forced to learn patience with the increased crowds of people who flood into the roads and shopping centers in an effort to make Christmas what they are told it should be. We are drawn to share the experience of Christmas with family members in intimate settings that often challenge our patience in accepting the differences between family members.
Let’s plant the seeds of waiting at Advent together by tending to our souls through prayer and meditation. I believe it will lead to a blessed, holy patience with yourself, others and God. The lesson of holy patience can serve you throughout the new year.