It is in God’s nature to be patient

Tertullian made the observation, and he apologizes at the beginning of the treatise On Patience because patient, he says, he is not.

Nor am I. Nor are we. Do you know, for example, what’s so attractive about fast food? Not the taste, though that’s part of it–the predictable taste we can count on. It isn’t that great when you eat it. What is great is how easy it is. How quickly one can have it, sit down to devour it unceremoniously, stuff the disproportionate trash in an extra large trash can, slouch off. Fast food that is fiddly and laborious to eat is doomed. Fast food that requires cutlery . . . do you think it would keep the fast food restaurants open? And I think it is the badness of it, the instantness we want. At least, that’s what at present I believe.

And if you agree, then you will see there are an awful lot of things in this American life like that. It is as if there were a huge push to satisfy us easily, with that which is desirable because it is nothing so much as easy. Convenient–from appliances, to loans, to food, to relationships, to church, everything–it is the great good. It is how we define comfortable–both in the sense of easy (comfortable is convenient, in clothes however sloven, in food however substandard, in recreation however vulgar). Is it also in the sense of consoling us? Is convenience, is ease comfort? I have the feeling it is, and that is awfully near the core of the heart, isn’t it? It seems to me that we cultivate impatience because it is how you best desire the great good of easy everything. It’s the American way. Is it Tertullian also who speaks of how impatient lust is? That’s another one we’re laboring under in our day; not just a disordered desire, but one that will not wait to be satisfied and in our day must be easily satisfied. And we live in the middle of the consequences of this impatience.

What ought truly to comfort us is that it is in God’s nature to be patient. And the Christian life is about the life of God in the soul of man. The fruit of the Spirit is longsuffering and meekness. We have no patience and live in an age at war with patience and even its benefits. But God is at war with the age and living in his people. It is in God’s nature to be patient, and we have been made participants in the divine nature to manifest the radiant supernatural qualities of patience in a world dim and torpid with impatience.

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