Themes of time and patience unite the Hebrew Testament readings for this month. Time works in our lives in concrete and abstract ways. It's something we try to keep track of—some of us are good at managing it, but most of us aren't. Time is what we want to spend with people we care about and something we feel robbed of when someone dies prematurely—"before their time," we say.
Patience is a virtue, the proverb explains. But is patience a character trait or an emotion? Is it a state of being some people are predisposed to while others seem to have the words "anxious" stamped on their souls? Is there such a thing as too much patience?
Relationships mean listening, trusting, waiting, and praying. In other words, they require time and patience. In On Earth As in Heaven: Justice Rooted in Spirituality, Arthur Paul Boers observes that as Christians we are called to a relationship with God by "deriving from God our purpose, identity, direction, and self-esteem. Rather than asking the self-centered question, 'What is God's will for my life?' we are empowered to ask bigger questions, such as, 'How can I fit into the work of God's kingdom here on earth?'"
The problem, Boers says, is that we often try to justify ourselves by works. Learning to trust God is the most important step we can take in moving toward a better and whole relationship with the Author of our lives.
Malinda Elizabeth Berry is a dissertation fellow at Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana.
Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14; 2:18-23; Psalm 49:1-12; Colossians 3:1-11; Luke 12:13-21