As I look out the windows on a typical late-February day in Valparaiso, I realize that I am definitely ready for warmer temperatures and a season where snow is absent and I don't have to chip ice off my car windshields. Unless you are a big fan of winter, I imagine many of you feel the same way too. Well, rest easy friends because, before you know it, you will be cooking hamburgers on the grill, swimming, running outside, golfing and watching your children's and grandchildren's sporting events under the rays of abundant sunshine in the near future.
While we anticipate the pleasant weather of spring and summer here in the Midwest, our current weather reminds us of the need to be patient, to appreciate our blessings, and understand that just as God's creation is constantly evolving, so are our relationships with God. Patience is certainly not an easy virtue to exercise yet God's message to humanity has placed patience as one of the most important gifts we possess. As I write this blog, I opened the Bible and guess which book I landed on? Yes, the Book of Job which, of course, is the foundation behind the phrase, "have the patience of Job." Specifically, in Job's conversation with his friend Zophar the Naamathite, Job asks the question, "Why should I not be inpatient?" (Job 21:4). After having his sons and daughters tragically taken upon the destruction of their house, one can understand why Job would ask this question. While Job's faith was constantly tested throughout his life, he remained a faithful servant to the Lord who "restored the fortunes of Job... and the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before," (Job 42:10). In essence, Job responded to his many losses by remaining patient - by serving and trusting God.
In our modern-day lives, our patience is tested on a daily basis. Some of those tests of patience involve our health or the health of family and friends. Some of those challenges originate from our jobs and our children's or grandchildren' academics and school activities. Of course, our patience is constantly being tested by the things we can't control and by the busyness of our lives in general.
Earlier this week, Don Newcombe, one of the first African-American pitchers in the Major Leagues, passed away at age 92. While I was a student at The Ohio State University, I had the blessing in 1983 of interviewing Newcombe for an article I wrote for the school newspaper. A former Cy Young Award winner and World Series Champion with the Dodgers' organization, Newcombe was a recovering alcoholic who, at the time of the interview, was in Columbus, Ohio to speak at the opening of a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center serving teenagers. Newcombe, whose baseball career was temporarily halted due to alcoholism, is a prime example of somebody who exercised patience through his own rehabilitation in his journey to becoming a recovering alcoholic. Rest in Peace, Don.
As we are reminded by the Book of Job and through modern-day examples like Newcombe, as well as our own personal challenges, patience is a God-given virtue that comes in very handy as we fulfill God's mission as a church and as God's servants. "I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted," Job said in answering God (Job 42:2).
Yes, in late-February, as we anxiously anticipate sunshine and warmer weather, let us live with a loving heart, a peaceful soul, and a patient mind!