“See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth,
being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains.
You too must be patient.” James 5: 7-8
There once was a man who lived in a small town called Espera. One day, one of the man’s friends had an idea to plant a garden. All of the others agreed and so the planting began. Each friend began to plant his own garden, which were filled with an array of different kinds of flowers. As time passed, the man who lived in Espera noticed that the flowers began to grow at different rates. While all of the friends planted the same types of flowers, his garden appeared to lag behind. Nonetheless, the man from Espera continued to take care of his garden. Soon, one friend informed him that he found this product which sped up the growing process. Not wanting to interfere with its natural growth, the Espera man continued to toil and take care of his plants. Months later, the man’s friend invited him over to see his garden. The man from Espera noticed that while all of the plants had grown, there seemed to be something wrong. The plants did not look quite normal. The stems were larger than the flowers, and the leaves were disfigured. Although the man from Espera's garden did not grow as fast, he continued taking care of it until the plants began to blossom and bloom. The Espera man's garden contained the most beautiful flowers, and upon seeing his garden, his friend appeared confused and frustrated. “How is it that your garden looks this way?” The friend explained, “My friend, I have toiled and worked. While it was difficult when I did not see the fruit of my work, I continued. I have learned that often the most beautiful things cannot be rushed but must be waited for, for it is easy to hurry but it is difficult to wait. However, in waiting, the smallest details have time to grow.”
Honestly, it is easy to side with the friend in the story. Give me the quickest way; let’s be more efficient. In a world in which everything is fast-paced and rushed, it is difficult to see the significance in waiting and the virtue of patience. Waiting is an inevitable part of our daily lives, and especially plays a huge role in our spiritual lives. We find ourselves waiting on God or waiting upon ourselves to make progress in holiness. This is often difficult for us. Perhaps because this idea of instant gratification spills over into our spiritual lives very often. How many times have we prayed and expected God to answer right away? How many times have we sought God’s will in a specific situation and thought that He did not answer, He is not really listening, or perhaps He does not care? Surely, we have found ourselves echoing Psalm 13, “How long, O Lord?.” But as we reflect upon waiting, Our Old Testament friends have wonderful insights to share with us…
Consider Abram: on more than one occasion, God had promised Abram many descendants. This promise would not be hard to believe except that Sarai bore no children. Thus, Abraham needed to do two things: trust in God and wait for the fulfillment of God’s promise to Him. Sarai needed to do the same. However, Sarai might have thought that God had something else in mind, as she encouraged Abram to obtain children by her maid, Hagar. Many times we find ourselves in similar situations. Whether it seems humanly impossible or too long, we think that we must do something in order for this to come to pass. Nevertheless, God’s plan is actually fulfilled within the process of waiting. It is important to note that Hagar bore Abram a son when he was 86 years old. The Lord appeared to him when he was 90 years old to reveal his promise once more. Finally, Abram, now called Abraham, bore Isaac when he was 100 years old! Consider this for a moment, God has promised to bless you, but you realize that you waited about 14 years for this blessing. (Genesis 17 & 21).
Consider Moses: at this time, the people of Israel displayed much affliction in Egypt because of Pharaoh. Resultantly, the Lord sends Moses to deliver the people from their bondage, and God also promises that He would bring the people out of their bondage. It appears that this would never happen because Moses often sought to tell Pharaoh to let his people go. Every time Moses requested this, Pharaoh would increase the people’s labor so that they not only make bricks, but also gather their own straw! (Exodus 5: 10-11). Moses, in his frustration says, “Why didst thou ever send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he has done evil to this people, and thou hast not delivered thy people at all.” (Exodus 5:22-23) This is important because not only has Moses been waiting for God to fulfill His promise, but when Moses has followed God’s command, things appear to get worse. This often happens in our lives. We know of God’s promises but it seems that even though we are doing what He asks of us, we are still in the same place. Unfortunately, we don’t seem to be making any progress or things seem worse. However, God still encourages Moses and promises that the people will be freed. Similarly, God comforts and encourages us in every situation as a part of His greater plan.
Let’s jump to the New Testament: Even the woman who I love so much teaches us about waiting. Many times we think that if we knew what would happen in our future, we might be better off. If we knew what to expect, perhaps waiting may be easier. However, Our Lady did know what was to happen, but still had to wait, with loving trust, in God’s plan. Let’s reflect upon some of the events of Our Lady’s life. St. Luke gives us a beautifully detailed account of the encounter between the Archangel Gabriel and Mary. In this encounter, Mary is told that she will conceive and bear the Messiah. Mary is also told that her cousin, Elizabeth, who is barren, will also bear a son as a sign that nothing will be impossible for God. (Luke 1:26-38) Notice Mary’s response here, she says “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38). Yes, Mary knows what is to happen but she does not know every single detail of the future. She submits. She surrenders. She says yes to whatever may be. In essence, Mary will simply have to wait and see what shall happen but she has agreed that whatever will happen, she will accept.
So in short, if the Lord is asking you to wait for something, know that waiting leads to holiness. In this holiness, the Lord sometimes asks us to take a leap of faith. But by waiting, I increase trust. It may not always feel good to trust God this much, but it is necessary. So, think of waiting as a posture of open hands to receive whatever the Lord wants to give because He does all things well (Mark 7:37). It can even mean suffering. To suffer with someone is to love them. In turn, waiting is a way of loving someone. For if I love you, I have decided that I will wait and desire only what you desire. We can give up what we want and choose what God has in mind. So, the more we are comfortable waiting on God’s good will, the more we can truly grow in patience.
Oftentimes, we wait and wait for our prayer to be answered. We pray for a relative that is sick, a new job, or for a spouse. And at times, God seems unaware of my needs. We cry out to God saying, “I don’t understand this. What should I do?” and Jesus gently reminds us to walk by faith and not by sight ( 2 Cor 5:7). For who hopes for what one sees? (Romans 8:24)
As for me, three friends give me great courage on faith. The first is a centurion soldier. Jesus wants to come over to heal his servant the centurion, but this centurion, full of faith, says that just a word from Jesus will be sufficient. (Luke 7:7) The second is a leader of the synagogue who asks Jesus to come and lay his hand on his daughter to heal her. He is thinking Jesus only needs to touch her in order that she may be healed. And third, the brave woman who knew that if she only touched the garment of Jesus she would be healed (Luke 8:40-56). All of these three friends experienced beautiful miracles because they had the faith of children. Their faith is child-like, and they trust with immense strength. Likewise, in the story of the two blind men, Jesus asks them “do you believe that I am able to do this?” (Matt 9:28).
Just as Jesus asks the two blind men, so also does Jesus ask you.
“Do you believe that I am able?”
Let us respond with the blind men. Yes, Lord! We know that you are able to not only do the things that we hope for, but the things that we need. We have faith in you, we trust in you, and we wait for you, Lord.
Dear soul, Blessed are you because you have waited (Isaiah 30:15,18).
"Blessed are all those who wait for Him"
Jesus loves You!
"Jesus is waiting for you in the chapel."- St. Jeanne Jugan