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Posts Tagged ‘patience’


Esther 6: Reward

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Rembrandt: Ahauserus and Haman at Esther’s Feast

We cannot determine God’s timeline and when we watch how his plans unfold in our space and time we see that God has refined the shepherding of billions of souls to a mysterious art.  And it is something that he practices well.  Life is complicated.  God knows that rewarding one creature stirs envy in another.  This is the story of Satan and the fallen angels who succumb to their jealousy.  God knows that giving his creatures the choice to opt for darkness or light means that some of them will fall; but God also knows that his loving compassion leaves many opportunities for reform and changes in outlooks, and so he leaves his plans open . . . in order to work with the creations he so loves.

God is fully aware that his show of mercy stirs jealousy in the hearts of others, and so he prepares plans for these contingences.  We have seen and we have been told and we have experienced the fact that God will always turn harm to good.  The extremity or numbers or layers in any given situation are never too much for God to handle.  He is more than up to the challenge . . . for he is the creator of all we see and experience.

Today’s reading – another of my favorites – takes us to the beginning of another story of how a woman saves a nation.  It takes us to the place in the narrative where we see how the seed of envy blooms into a fully-blown narcissistic tantrum which in the end brings down the initiator rather than the intended victim.  Mordecai, a Jewish man living in the Persian court of King Xerxes (or Ahauserus), and his niece Esther, who is married to this King, have submitted their plea for justice.  The King has responded and now we await the sentence he will deliver.  As the king struggles with the plots that surround him and the information which has been brought to him, he goes back to a former event – a time when Mordecai saved his life by warning him of an assassination plot.  When we read today, we see how the evil plotted against goodness has a way – in God’s plan and in God’s timeline – of returning to visit itself upon the perpetrator.  What happens next to Haman is the very consequence he had wished to deliver to Mordecai and Esther – it is a punishment born out of the darkness of envy, and it goes home to exterminate its originator.

If you have time today, read this story through.  Different Bibles have different methods of presenting the material that was later inserted to flesh out the story but it is worth the trouble of sorting through all of this.  The story of Esther who would rather hide than confront evil with goodness and truth is its own reward.  Today’s lesson that we cannot understand how things will unravel around us is a story to carry in our hearts.  It both cautions us against entertaining ideas of revenge and it bolsters us in our hope that ultimately the light will overcome the darkness.  All is revealed.  All accounts are paid.  In full.  And this is what we have the opportunity to ponder today.

Reward often carries with it the fact that some human beings will covet the good fortune of others.  Some human beings will wish destruction for those who receive gifts from the king.  It remains with us to wait patiently for the ultimate outcome which the just king always delivers.  Those who plot in the darkness are done in by the very mechanism they set into motion.  This is divine justice at its best.  It is for the follower of Christ to discern his or her place in God’s plan, to be patient as events unfold, and to pray for the redemption of those who delight in the darkness.


Written on June 4, 2009 and re-posted today.

Image from: http://www.artbible.info/art/large/94.html

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Habakkuk 2:1-3: Waiting

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

I will stand at the guard post and station myself upon the rampart, and keep watch to see what the Lord will say to me, and what answer he will give to my complaint. 

I love these verses. They speak to us of fidelity, constancy, and patience. They call us to commit ourselves for eternity.  They ask us to be reliable as God is reliable.  They are difficult words to follow but they are a life-giving and sustaining command.  They also give us permission to deliver our grievances to God, asking for intercession and deliverance.

If it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late. 

We live in an “instant” world.  I have just read that video gaming causes us to expect reward every 10 to 15 seconds and I find this to be sad.  Our insistence on immediate gratification cheats us of the exquisite anticipation of God’s intervention and reply. Our denial that God is responding in God’s time erases the opportunity to arrive at a deep knowing that God hears us and is considering the best reply.  Our impatience leads us to believe that God does not love us, that God is off tending to some other business far more important, or that we are too insignificant for God to even notice that we exist.  We are a people who do not wait well.

If it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late. 

By deciding that God is “late” when we do not receive instant messages to all of our requests we admit to the belief that God is a puppet to be manipulated . . . or they we are puppets who merely respond to God’s string pulling.  We refuse to see that we are in conversation with God and that the creator is giving us a bit of space to grow and learn.   These words speak to us of hope. They tell us how to suffer well.  They remind us that we survive best when we rely on God.

If it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late. 

The message of Habakkuk is one that any human being who has suffered can comprehend.  He wrote his prophecy in the face of intense corruption and desperate circumstances.  The notes in the NAB tell us that “there was political intrigue and idolatry widespread in the small kingdom”.

On a personal level, many of us are aware of intrigue and idolatry, either as an interior, personal flaw or as something we experience in a work or family group.  It seems that no matter where we go we will not escape plotting, conniving and deceit; but the one with integrity will wait on the Lord.  We often hear these verses read out to us when we touch on the theme of waiting.

How long, O Lord?  I cry for help but you do not listen! I cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not intervene.  Why do you let me see ruin; why must I look at misery?  Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and clamorous discord.  Then the Lord answered me and said: Write down the vision clearly upon the tablets, so that one can read it readily.  For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late.  The rash one has no integrity; but the just one, because of his faith, shall live.

And this life that we will live is foreshadowed in the closing verses of the prophet Zephaniah, the book following Habakkuk.

At that time I will bring you home, and at that time I will gather you; For I will give you renown and praise, among all the peoples of the earth, When I bring about your restoration before your very eyes, says the Lord.

This is surely something worth waiting for.  This is surely the life we have been promised.  It is the life we can expect . . . if only we might wait.


A re-post from May 15, 2012.

Images from: http://reachforencouragement.blogspot.com/2010_05_01_archive.html and http://kingdomnewtestament.wordpress.com/2012/01/24/acts-1-waiting-in-prayer/

For more on this prophecy see the page Habakkuk – Keeping Faith, Trusting in God on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/habakkuk-keeping-faith-trusting-in-god/

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Job 23 and 24: Desire and Terror

Friday, May 24, 2019

Commentary from La Biblia de América: Job continues in his search for a personal encounter with God, both seeking and fearing him; but the judgment of his companions does not speak to his condition.  Job finds himself bereft not because he has broken God’s law in any way.  His sins do not bring him to this spot of desperation; he suffers innocently from circumstances beyond his control.  Yet amid all of this hurt, Job refuses to reject God; indeed, he seeks God all the more with each new wave of pain.  Job actually takes refuge in his suffering, frightened and even terrified, waiting for his end.  He describes an impotence which we ourselves may feel at a time when we are abandoned and have no recourse.  We suffer while the wicked experience success.  A victim of bad luck and injustice, Job experiences a reality too awful to be concealed.  Further footnotes tell us that verses 18 through 25 have appeared here rather than where they may rightly belong – in a previous chapter – perhaps the copyist could not bear the pain and so thought to bring consolation from another place.

This lament of Job guides any and each of us through a wave of pain so intense that it nearly takes one’s breath away.  This level of suffering can only be healed by God . . . and it is upon God that Job calls.

Today’s reading asks us to think about our desire to see and know God . . . face to face.  Job’s unquenched yearning is void of any wish to exact punishment or revenge on anyone or anything.  Job questions.  Job fears.  Yet Job does not leave God perhaps because he knows that God has not left him.

The imagery today describes a dichotomy of longing accompanied by fear.  Job needs to experience God’s presence in his life . . . and he fears that perhaps he will never escape this place of emptiness where the wicked have full sway.  He survives in a twilight world where day and night co-exist, and he fears that the darkness will win out.

As we have observed, perhaps it is for this reason that a later copyist has inserted the words which we know Job believes because they hold truth and because they describe what Job does . . . he refuses to give up, he holds on to hope and he waits.

To him who rises without assurance of his life he gives safety and support.   

When we find ourselves in the pit of misery described by Job, we must remember that the force of our yearning will be met, matched, and exceeded by God’s love . . . for he is life itself.

To him who rises without assurance of his life he gives safety and support.   


A re-post from May 9, 2012.

LA BIBLIA DE LA AMÉRICA. 8th. Madrid: La Casa de la Biblia, 1994. Print.

For more reflections on the Book of Job click the image above or go to: http://agapegeek.com/category/bible-study/job/

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Acts 11: Step by Step

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

El Greco: The Apostles Peter and Paul – The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia

I sometimes become discouraged when the world seems narrow, cruel and bleak.  I sometimes feel as if my hopes and prayers are looking in all the wrong places for all the wrong solutions.  I sometimes cannot believe that I have understood what God has in mind.  So much in this world does not make sense.  And this is when I turn to Acts and the stories of the fledgling church for it is here that God’s will for us is so clear.  It is in these chapters and verses that we witness an incredible burgeoning of Spirit and an amazingly tenacious church.  A small band of ordinary people begin an extraordinary movement.  I wonder if they would succeed in the world we know today.

Patience, perseverance, boldness.  These are the marching orders for Christ’s fledgling Church, his new and blushing bride.  Many new members are joining and the persecutor Saul has become the advocate Paul.  The first major breach has occurred and now step by step (verse 4) Peter gets to the heart of his message: The resurrection is not only meant for the Christ; it is a gift given to each of us by the Creator . . . and our first step toward this gift is our baptism in the Spirit.  Peter explains the message he received from God in a vision and wraps up his thinking with one on my favorite verses: Who was I to hinder God? 

The Church undergoes persecution in Antioch, the place where the followers of Jesus were first called Christians.  Stephen has been stoned and is the Church’s first martyr.  Barnabas continues as a loyal preacher of the Story, adding members to the Church.  Step by step, with patience, perseverance, and boldness, these early founders move gently but firmly as they form Christ’s Bride – the Church.  Prayers are answered.  Miracles happen.  Prayers are asked and answered, although not always understood.  The Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways.   I need to remember these lessons when I feel deserted, overwhelmed or lost.

Often we should not really be able to recognize an answer to prayer if it came.  Maybe the Holy Spirit was using our little prayer for some much larger purpose, of his own, and his prayer may be answered even if our little prayer seems to remain unnoticed.  It is in God’s hands from start to finish, and we must accept that and not try to wrest it from him.

  Father Simon Tugwell, O.P.  Dominican priest, author of books on theology and spirituality, member of Dominican, Historical Institute, MAGNIFICAT  Meditation, May 15, 2010

We are cogs on the wheels of Christ’s Church at work and we have the freedom to choose how we go about completing our daily rounds.  We can choose to churn in place and stubbornly hold up the works, or we might move as we are asked.  Who are we to hinder God? 

We are part of the great fire that Christ brought to earth and we may fling ourselves at our work, burning out like a spark that leaps out into the night sky to extinguish itself quickly on the damp ground.  Or we might choose to stay close to the heart of the flames when banked for the night to hunker down when fuel is low, hugging close to the origin, joining with the other faithful embers who lie together, glowing and waiting through the dark and cold . . . to spring to life again with new wood and the coming of the morning light and wind.  Who are we to hinder God? 

Patience, perseverance, boldness.  These are the marching orders for Christ’s embattled and struggling Church, his faithful and hope-filled bride.  Who are we to hinder God? 


A re-post from May 7, 2012.

Image from: http://www.hermitagemuseum.org/html_En/03/hm3_3_1_2a.html

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation for the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 3.15 (2010). Print.  

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Lectio Divina

“God spots” in the human brain

Monday, March 25, 2019

Spiritual reading is often seen as a desperate last step in a series of pleas to God. Many of us see the contemplation of the sacred word as a last resort or a last worried petition for God’s attention.  The reality is that we constantly have God’s attention and need do nothing special for God to “notice” us.  We are well-loved and well-attended although there are times when we feel this may not be so.

Contemplative prayer is often seen as something we do when we can find the time.  It is seen as the work of the consecrated religious or the spiritually gifted. The truth is that each of us has the capacity to consider and reflect on God’s goodness.  We need no special talent and no special tools.  We each have a God spot that scientists have identified and in fact there are likely “several areas of the brain that form the biological foundations of religious belief”.  (“Independent”)  We are well-equipped and well-blessed with this gift from God.

Today is the Fifth Sunday of Lent, a time when we approach Holy Week and the miracle of Easter.  Let us spend some time today with just a bit of scripture if we do not have time for a chapter or a book.  Let us spend some time today with the process of lectio divina even if for only twenty minutes or so.  Let us spend some time today with the Creator who loves us and tends to us.  This Creator longs to commune with us, yearns to touch is in special ways, wants to bless us and grace with all manner of gifts.  Let us give a bit of time today to God in a bit of reading, a bit of meditation, and a bit of communication.  We will find that the time we spend will come back to us in the form of patience, wisdom, and a newly-found peace.


Image from: http://ymiblogging.org/2010/01/god-spot/

“Belief and the brain’s ‘God spot’ .” Independent. 10 March 2009: n. page. Web. 25 Mar. 2012. <http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/belief-and-the-brains-god-spot-1641022.html&gt;.

If you do not know how to begin, go to the Scripture as Prayer page on this blog, of go to:

For more information on God spots, go to: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/belief-and-the-brains-god-spot-1641022.html, or http://www.americamagazine.org/content/article.cfm?article_id=2886, or http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/03/10/brains-god-spot-discovere_n_173705.html, or http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=104291534, or http://ymiblogging.org/2010/01/god-spot/

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Daniel 2: Public Life

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Daniel before Nebuchadnezzar

I am thinking of all the negative things that happen to Daniel which he calmly allows God to transform into good – his exile, his imprisonment, his gift as an interpreter of dreams which may be used against him . . . because of envy on the part of the king’s magicians.  He knows that the very prediction he is called to announce may bring about his execution.  Daniel withstands all of this – and even more when we read the entire story – by placing his trust, hope, faith and love in God . . . and by allowing God to work his wonderful will with those who are opposed to him, to the Jewish people and to their God.  I am reminded of Psalm 37: Commit your life to the Lord, trust in him and he will act, so that your justice break forth like the light, your cause like the noon-day sun.

Daniel does not let fear of failure or a reluctance to commit to God or to obey God to deter him from his path of fidelity.

Be still before the Lord and wait in patience; do not fret at the man who prospers; a man who makes evil plots to bring down the needy and the poor. 

Daniel does not abandon God or allow the world and its worries to lure him away from following God.

Calm your anger and forget your rage; do not fret, it only leads to evil.  For those who do evil perish; the patient shall inherit the land.

Daniel abides with God just as God abides with him.  Daniel waits upon the wisdom of the Lord, knowing that for God time is eternal.

A little longer – and the wicked shall have gone. 

Daniel knows that the only true emotion, the only lasting force is God’s love for us.  It is greater than anything we can imagine.  It is bolder, more persistent and persevering than anyone we know.  It is the only energy that matters . . . this love and peace of God that comes to us in the form of the man, Christ.

Look at his place, he is not there.  But the humble shall own the land and enjoy the fullness of peace.

Daniel makes a public statement when he expresses his love of God; and as we read his story we may join him to enter into our own public statement about our intensely personal relationship with God.

And so we might ask ourselves: Do we love God enough to make a public statement about our fidelity to him?

 For the humble shall own the land . . . and enjoy the fullness of peace.  Amen. 


A re-post from March 23, 2012. 

Image from: http://myyearofjubilee50.blogspot.com/2011/11/dan-man.html

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Numbers 21Worn Out

Monday, February 25, 2019

Several years ago we focused on verses 4 through 9 of this chapter in a Noontime reflection about The Bronze Serpent and at that time we noted that this story is often read during the Lenten season when we are called to repent and make reparations.  We reflected on the thought that God in great wisdom and mystery sends a cure to the people that is similar to their disease; and we saw the Hebrews succumb to the temptation to complain when their patience is worn out by the journey.  Just as we travel toward Easter during Lent, and move Advent waiting for the light.  When we have so much invested in our waiting it is easy to give in to the kind of impatience we see today; and we know the feeling of despair that replaces hope when the expected outcome is so long in coming.  We zero in on our disappointment and forget to look at the many victories in our lives.

The episode of the bronze serpent is sandwiched between stories of victory over Arad, Moab, Sihon and Og.  God has accompanied the Hebrews and seen to their welfare; yet the travail of the journey has worn their patience thin and they turn against God.  Although they experience a series of triumphs, they complain about their food and drink.  They want to control the smallest details of their lives and rather than rest in the triumphs they have lived they obsess about the minutiae.  This is a story in which we can place ourselves.

Whether we find ourselves in Advent or Lent, or find ourselves in an ordinary time of extraordinary waiting, we can look at the Hebrews to see ourselves in their impatience; and we can make our own journey through the lands of Arad, Moab, Sihon and Og.   We can examine what motivates us, what leads us, what stops us.  And we can pray . . .

Do I too often steer clear from something when the cure lies in my willingness to enter God’s plan?

Am I too stiff-necked or too impatient?

Do I fear too much and trust too little?

Am I too controlling or too impatient?

Do I complain too much and give thanks too little?

Am I too unwilling or too impatient?

Do I take the victories for granted and throw temper tantrums when my own plans come up short?

Am I focused on self and not on God?

In the hardship of the journey it is easy to concentrate on our fears and wishes; it is difficult to keep our eyes on the prize.  So when we feel this impatience welling up, let us look to God for strength; let us ask God for the stamina we need to see the journey through.  Let us look at the many victories that line the pathways of our lives; and let us remember that when we rely on God rather than self . . . our patience will never wear through.


A re-post from December 3, 2011.

For more reflections on traveling the road of life, see the Journeys of Transformation page on this blog.

Images from: http://jewlistic.com/2010/06/ive-had-it-with-these-snakes-in-this-portion/ and http://www.zianet.com/maxey/reflx303.htm

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Daniel 9:20-23Gabriel Comes to Daniel

Thursday, February 7, 2019

The Angel Gabriel

Written on February 3, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

We know the story of Daniel so well . . . the boys in the furnace . . . Daniel with the lions in their den . . . the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream . . . the handwriting on the wall . . . this bright young man lives in captivity yet never leaves his God . . . and his God never leaves him.

Today’s reading is brief yet it calls us to reflect on the many stories in this book.  Who brings the wonderful visions to Daniel which he records?  Gabriel.  The Announcer The first angel in scripture to be described as arriving with wings . . . who comes to tell Daniel that their captivity will be even longer than they had anticipated.  Rather than the 70 years of waiting which Jeremiah described, God’s people must remain in exile 70 times 70 . . . 490 years.  And how are they to abide during such a long time?  How are they to know that God is with them?  Daniel demonstrates even as Gabriel arrives.  He prays, he examines his own conscience and the collective conscience of his people, he petitions God, he seeks the meaning of the things that Yahweh has revealed to him, and he awaits the wisdom of God with a patient and open heart.

It is difficult to wait for justice.  It is painful to ache for mercy and compassion.  Yet this so many times is the human condition.  If Gabriel were to appear before us this very minute to announce that some long-awaited intercession would indeed arrive . . . but in God’s time and plan rather than our own . . . would we react as Daniel does?  Are we truly good and loyal servants?

Patience is difficult when we see something floating just beyond our own reach.  Yet if we believe that God creates all, loves all, and wants justice for all, there is no other way to live.  We must be open vessels which the Holy Spirit fills.  We must be clean temples where Christ may act as high priest.  We must be like the five faithful virgins who wait outside the inn in the quiet darkness for the bridegroom, conserving their oil, preparing their lanterns and knowing that the day and hour of his coming are a mystery.

Titian: The Annunciation – Gabriel and Mary

If the angel of the Lord were to appear before us in rapid flight at the time of the evening sacrifice, would we be as open as Daniel?  Would we be as willing?  Would we be as patient?

When the evening hour approaches, as we go to God in humble yet joyful prayer and petition, let us ready our hearts, let us still our minds, and let us call on the wisdom of God.  And if the message which our God sends to us on swift angel wing is a message which tells us that we must wait beyond all waiting, then let us give joyful reply to God.  Let us answer him.  Amen.


A re-post from February 7, 2012.

Images from: http://www.crystalinks.com/angels.html and http://www.squidoo.com/heavenly-angels?utm_source=google&utm_medium=imgres&utm_campaign=framebuster

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John 8:1-11Letting God Worry

Thursday, January 30, 2019

Guercino: Christ with the Woman Taken in Adultery

Our pastor once began his sermon on the Sunday we heard this story by saying, “So where is the man?” He allowed silence to settle over us and then he continued, “If a woman is committing adultery, a man has been with her.   So where is he?  And why have the scribes and Pharisees not brought him along with this woman to confront Jesus?”  I remember this sermon well because it surprised me.  I had settled into my seat to listen to the familiar lesson about not making accusations quickly lest we find ourselves melting away in embarrassment with the crowd; and instead of the usual line I heard . . . So where is he? 

As I listened to the homily I thought about the times I have stepped forward when I ought to – as we were taught to do by our parents – and I knew why people do not come forward then they should.  We fear retribution; we are afraid we may be cast out or punished; we are ashamed; we lack the strength.  I remembered when I was in the first grade and a friend of mine and I broke a classroom rule together.  It was innocuous but we intended to break the rule; in fact, I think we found it to be silly.  During recess one day, we took new chalk from the box on the teacher’s desk to write on the board instead of using the short stubby pieces on the chalk tray.  When the question came – as we knew it would – I stepped forward as we had agreed – we were going to show the teacher how senseless this rule was – but my friend did not.  I was stunned but suffered the punishment alone.  No afternoon recess.

When I arrived home I told my Mother what had happened.  She first reprimanded me softly but with certainty, telling me that the teachers often bought their own supplies and that I had no right to decide how to use the donated chalk.  After listening to my insistence that my friend had let me take the punishment alone, my mother said patiently, “I guess she just couldn’t fess up . . . but that doesn’t mean she didn’t want to.  Maybe she just didn’t have the strength.  She probably wanted to admit she had broken a classroom rule and just couldn’t.  Instead of fussing about what she did or didn’t do, just be glad that you did the right thing”.  She was right.

When I told my Dad that I had been punished for breaking a class rule but that my friend had not admitted her own guilt and had gotten off with no consequence, he replied as I thought he would, “Let God worry about her.  You have to let people come along in their own time and way”.  I could not let go of the thought that the circumstances were not fair and when I insisted that things weren’t equal my Dad answered, “Maybe not, but you will have to leave the equality part of this to God.  What does or does not happen to her is really none of your business.  I think you need to let God take care of this one.  This is something you can’t fix by force.  You’ll have to use kindness”.  And then Dad added, “Now don’t snub her when you see her tomorrow.  She knows she’s done wrong and she knows she should have taken her punishment just like you did.  You have to get over this and smile at her.  She’ll come around if you do.  You’ll see”.  And of course, he was right.

As I listened to the homily that day about the man who did not come forward to admit his guilt, knowing that the Law focused on the act of the woman and not her partner, I thanked my deceased parents for their wisdom and patience.  I thanked God in heaven that we are created by such a kind, patient and gentle God.  And I thanked Mother and Dad for teaching us how important it is . . . to act in kindness, and to let God do the worrying.


A re-post from January 30, 2012. 

Image from: http://emsworth.wordpress.com/2009/03/30/an-audacious-five-picture-exhibit-at-the-frick-collection/

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