I don’t know if this qualifies as a blog post or not, but I wanted to update everyone on where I’ve been for the past two weeks or so. The short answer is: everywhere!
We have just come through Holy Week and Easter, and that by itself is normally stressful enough to send any pastor into a conniption. Add to this my final paper for this term in my doctoral program, and a post-Easter visit to my mother and grandmother’s house, and you can see that it has been a rough couple of weeks.
That said, I think it is important to take time and give thanks that God has seen us through difficult times. There were moments during this two-week marathon where I was unsure what was coming next, and certainly moments when I thought I wasn’t going to make it. Yet, despite these feelings, God was faithful. The key, I believe, to overcoming periods like this is patience.
The writer of Hebrews puts it this way:
10 For God is not unjust; he will not overlook your work and the love that you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do. 11 And we want each one of you to show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope to the very end, 12 so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. -Hebrews 6:10-12
Of course, the writer has set bigger sites in this quote than just getting through Holy Week, terms papers and a visit to family. The writer is speaking to a Christian community that has and must continue to bear the weight of persecution and uncertainty about the future. We must never forget that the early church at all points and places was consistently fragile early on as Paul’s, Peter’s James’ and John’s letters show us.
Nevertheless, despite the weight of our current troubles, the writer here asks us to lift our heads to that which is coming, and we know it is coming by what has come before. The writer develops throughout the letter to the Hebrews the theme that the promises made by God to the people has always pointed towards the glory to come. In faith, they persevered, generation after generation, because their desire was for a “homeland,” a “better country,” a “city” God has prepared for them… has prepared for us. (Hebrews 11:14-16) And so, it is by looking backwards at what God has already done, and the direction they were headed, so to speak, that we can look forward to and anticipate that which is to come.
And for all of them, from Abraham onward, the required virtue of the people of God as we make our way to what God has in store for us is patience. God’s promises are always trustworthy and true, but getting there involves struggle, and that struggle is only possible by learning to wait on God’s timing.