Passionate Patience

My recent reading through of the New Testament ended, not surprisingly, in Revelation. And since that read can be a particularly daunting task, I had the Message translation of the Bible handy. Here’s an excerpt from that translation of Revelation 3:8-10:

I see what you’ve done. Now see what I’ve done … You don’t have much strength, I know that; you used what you had to keep my Word. You didn’t deny me when times were rough … Because you kept my Word in passionate patience, I’ll keep you safe in the time of testing …

Did anything in there strike you as a little odd? Here’s something that really caught my attention: passionate patience. I had never heard those two words used together before. Yet, because the Church of Philadelphia had this particular kind of patience, God was going out of His way to open doors for them (v.8) and He promised to keep them from times of trouble (v.10). My first thought after reading this was, Whatever passionate patience is, I really need it!

I think that most people hear the word “patience” and automatically think of taking a position of passivity. Patience is all too often equated with some sort of serenity or calmness. But this scripture brought to light a facet of patience I’d never seen before. This kind of patience that pleases the Master of the Universe is not just a by-product of lethargy. It’s clear here that patience is an act.

The type of patience mentioned here is referred to as passionate. Passion adds another dimension to whatever it accompanies; it takes it to a whole other level. Passionate people are consumed people. Whether a basketball team, a career goal, or a real estate venture, there was a point at which someone viewed something as merely enjoyable or exciting. Then it became a passion.

Take anything that you enjoy doing. Now minimize the fact that you really enjoy it. Now it’s just a thing. Really, think about it. Here are some examples:

Fishing becomes about a boat and a stick.

Exercising becomes about riding a bike that’s going nowhere.

Shopping becomes about walking around lusting after what you could never afford and buying too much of what you can barely afford.

These things, just like any other thing, are made worth doing through passion. So why wouldn’t we desire to be passionately patient? Why would the thought of changing our comfortable view on patience seem a little unnerving? I think that it’s because most of the time the things we are being patient for seem like they’ll never get here. Or maybe we don’t want to get our hopes up that they will. So we go underground with our desires for them. Instead of cultivating passionate patience for these things, we give up on them all together.

Here’s an example: have you ever, maybe as a kid, asked your parents for something that they just couldn’t deliver on that second? It could have been a new bike or a new pair of shoes or just a pizza, but whatever it was, you weren’t going to get it that second. So you left the room, probably sulking, and went on to occupy yourself with something else. Soon you could have forgotten entirely about whatever you were asking for, because there was no cultivation of patience for it.

If and when you received whatever you had asked for, you were satisfied. Well … maybe. You were satisfied if you still wanted it or hadn’t replaced it with a substitute. Because there was never a healthy anticipation of receiving the thing, the delivery wasn’t as sweet. There was no passionate patience.

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Let’s face it: there are some things in life that we can’t hurry. Job changes, schooling schedules, marital statuses and friendship woes: some of these things really do just take time. They take patience. And I don’t know about you, but I want God to open doors for me and ensure my victory.

So don’t just wait around. Be passionately patient. Get consumed in it. Get consumed in the prayer and the waiting and the knowing that in passionate patience lies an ultimate end of blessing, provision and protection that will reach far beyond what you were hoping for.

[Monique Michel is a 2- year old college senior who feels most at peace with a Starbucks white mocha in hand.]

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