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Spiritual Matters by Rev Chris Sparks

Patience is a Virtue


Does anyone else remember their mum’s funny – though often wise – sayings? I find they pop into my mind on a regular basis. This week it was her statement that “patience is a virtue; possess it if you can. Often found in women, never in a man!”
I remember the twinkle in her eye as she said it. Her sincerity regarding the value of patience was never in question, but the second part of her saying was always accompanied by an endearing little half-smile.
Patience was something I did need to exercise this week. And I’m happy to say that I managed it well because the clock was my friend and not my demon at the time.
I needed a set of tyres for my car. Simples! So off I went to a tyre shop. I was met by a cheerful and helpful guy, and the ‘wheels’ of the exercise were set in motion. But before we reached the car to determine sizes, he was accosted by another guy outside who’d arrived after me. He jumped on Mr Helpful and presented his problem – an issue that grew more complicated with every passing minute. And as so often happens, just when the conversation should have concluded, additional questions and issues were raised by the customer. It dragged on and on. And I waited.
Finally, it was my turn, and after deciphering the information he needed, we went back inside to do some research. At that point another customer walked through the door to pick up his car. I waited once more while he paid for his tyres. The phone rang. The phone customer invariably gets priority. So, I waited some more.
I picked up an interesting car magazine and began reading. I was happy enough. My helpful guy was busy being helpful and juggling the demands of his many customers. Other interruptions followed too before the information I needed to make an informed decision was teased from the trade manuals – and a telephone call made.
And then the deal was done!
It was a good result – and in the circumstances, my helpful guy had been really helpful – not only to me, but to many others!
Patience is a virtue…etc. Yes, but never in a man? My wry grin reveals that this may not always be the case, mum!
When we pray, we naturally assume that God is giving us his undivided attention. That for the duration of our prayer, he has nothing else to do but listen and plan his response. This is one of those mysteries of the Divine universe that we fail to explain or even understand. But it appears that God has infinite patience and never grows tired of hearing from us – whether that communication be praise, thanksgiving, asking for something or even complaining. And how do we know he doesn’t give up on us or become distracted by the prayers of so many others? Because, prayer just works!
That’s the reality. Prayer works!
Now, some may disagree with this point. But it’s impossible to convince someone who has experienced consistent answers to prayer over many years that communication with God through prayer is ineffective; that he never hears or responds. I suppose the mistake so many make is to attach conditions to their prayers or demand that God adhere to the imposition of the time limits we set on requests.
When we respect God’s sovereignty, that’s when he rewards our patience and our faith.