One of my pet peeves about Christmas in America is how we tend to go hard at the familiar story that plays out around the manger – or at least the classic tableau featured in Christmas cards – but then routinely ignore so many of the other interesting elements.
It’s like how movie and television writers evidently believe the only hymn ever sung in church is Amazing Grace, when hundreds of other great hymns are just as popular. The only difference being that, with Christmas, we’re all complicit in practicing tunnel vision.
This is one reason that, this week, my men’s group talked about the story of Simeon and Anna (Luke 2: 21-40). It’s a wonderful narrative; featuring two faithful, hope-filled, elderly people who wait patiently their entire lives to witness the promise of Jesus.
So we enjoyed a great conversation about impatience, about the incessant “show me now!” mentality that pervades our culture, and about what God is teaching us – as Christian men – about hope and promise. The sad fact is, endemic impatience and the demand for short-term gratification (two maladies that define our age) not only govern expectations, but they limit vision too.
Then, as we shared our own struggles to live Christ’s teachings rather than the ideals of the world, the following truth settled into my consciousness and came to the surface like a daffodil pushing its way through the snow on an early spring day.
“Patience is the place where hope is born.” Patience can provide a place where hope takes root and grows. Patience can be the place where belief is shored up, vision is nurtured, and where we begin to see the road ahead more clearly.
Patience can be the place where hope is born.
One of many problems associated with the desire of so many people to see results “right now”, to be proffered instant satisfaction, to continually cash in rather than reinvest, and to reap profits in this quarter rather than letting things settle and grow, is that all we see is a one-dimensional – short-lived – return.
When we are that impatient, we never allow ourselves to look far enough into the future to nurture hope, or to walk into vision, or to live as a people conceived in promise.
To live as a people conceived in promise!
“Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles.” (Isaiah 40:31)
- “One of the great ironies of growing older,” one of the men pointed out, “is that I’m a lot more patient today than I was when I was 30.” The irony, of course, is that along with more patience we have much less time. But then we have also learned – are learning – that time in not necessarily the linear, predictable, straight line, incremental, measurable, immutable concept we imagined it was when we were young!