Scripture: Genesis 6:3; Exodus 34:6; Mark 4:26-29; Roman 15;5; Ephesians 4:1,2; James 1:2-4.
Imagine waiting 11 days under debris holding on to the hope that someone would eventually discover you alive. Just when authorities announced that efforts would be moving from an emphasis on search and rescue to relief and rebuilding, a 24 year-old Haitian was pulled from the rubble of what was once the hotel where he worked. Mr. Exantus told his rescuers that another four people were trapped with him but that they had stopped moving a couple of days earlier. Did patient perseverance make the difference?
Using Wikipedia’s definition of patience, certainly many, many people in Haiti endured under difficult circumstances. They persevered in the face of delay or provocation without becoming annoyed or upset exhibiting forbearance under strain, especially when faced with longer-term difficulties.1
On January 20th there were over 300 patients and their families camping outside the Hospital Adventiste d’Haiti waiting for life-saving surgery. They had to be patient in order to be treated by the volunteer medical staffworking in out-door operating rooms. To survive, many would require amputation of one or more arms or legs.2
By contrast via various news media we have also been able to observe impatient people. While trucks carrying much sought after food and water supplies arrived at relief stations, people moved out of an orderly line and began pushing and shoving, trampling on the weak. In similar scenes this week we’ve viewed chaos as citizens from other countries are storming their Embassy to get the documentation needed to exit Haiti. Anger is often a consequence of impatience.
Our lesson this week challenges us to develop patience, another fruit of the Spirit, and suggests that we can begin by focusing less on self and more on God’s patience with us.
What if others could observe how you behave in stressful situations? When a flight you are scheduled to board is cancelled or delayed, which of the two reactions do you usually exhibit? When stopped in traffic with no knowledge of what lies ahead, are you apt to be patient or impatient? Maybe at home something isn’t getting done as soon as you perceive it should be completed are you more likely to be tolerant or intolerant, patient or impatient?
In the Christian religion, patience is one of the most valuable virtues of life because it makes us better people. The ability to tolerate delay implies self control and forbearance as opposed to wanting what we want when we want it. Patience then is not only a virtue but a necessity for a happy existence.
We’ll never know for sure the extent that patience and faith have played in sustaining the people of Haiti. We have learned from reporters at the scene of the devastation how amazed they have been to find Christian groups worshipping in their make-shift camps singing hymns of praise–a marvelous testimony to their love of God and God’s love for them in the most trying of circumstances.