Passionate Spirituality with Benedict 4. Patience to wait for you
Genesis 32:9-30, Benedicts Prayer- Patience to Wait 14/7/13
: “I'm not getting any answer.” “Surely something should have happened by now?” “I've been waiting for...” That's when patience starts. If you have ever waited for a loved one you know that it can be worrying, frustrating, uncomfortable, distressing. But when they turn up it is all worthwhile.
Patience acknowledges that the loved one is to be trusted and that their timing is more
important than mine. Patience might include asking ourselves: “Am I in the right place? Is
this the right time?” but if so we hold onto the truth that He is to be trusted and that nothing
can withstand Him. And we wait in peace. How is that for you?
Genesis 32 shows Jacob famously wrestling with “God and man”. Jacob is not your usual example of patience – the name means “grasper” or “cheat” - a more active character. So I want to ask if waiting can be active rather than passive?
- Jacob v Man. Jacob has, by subterfuge and his mother's connivance, stolen his older brother's blessing. Then, full of courage, he runs away to Uncle Laban's for 7 years. Jacob is a man who uses tactics to control his future. When do we do that? Qualifying for Church School, Pension planning, Life insurance, Children to look after you in your old age. Jacob wants to return, but how? He's afraid of his hot tempered brother. So he uses patient tactics.
- He gives fair warning – Esau might think he is under attack. v3
- He sends an expendable servant to take a message. v4
- He reminds Esau that he has been “with family” all this time. v4
- He ingratiates himself with Flattering Esau. V5
- He splits up the family – like the Royal family flying – in case of violence.
- He prays fervently – reminding God of His promises.
- He sends significant presents to Esau both as an assurance of goodwill but also perhaps as a sign that his is a friendship worth having.
- Jacob is wrestling with “man” here. He has taken time to understand how the other person ticks and he is investing in healing this fractured relationship. Passive waiting would have had him staying in Laban's household until God cleared the path for him. Impatience would have had him try to seize God's promise by trying to overcome Esau. Patient waiting keeps its eyes on the goal, weighs up the costs and applies wisdom.
- Jacob v God. Jacob has always been aware the God has chosen him. He is the “grasper”, the “cheat” if you like. That's his nature. Jacob needs to understand how this promise is to come about. He takes patient steps.
- He send everyone off so that he can be alone with God. v24
- He “wrestles” through the night. Have you ever been kept awake wrestling? V25
- He demonstrates the ability to persist through pain. This is costly v25
- He perseveres until he finds peace with God and receives his blessing. V26
- God says that he has “prevailed” - God will meet his request. V28
- He knows that he has met with God.
- Jacob wrestles with God too. He has taken time to under stand how God ticks and he is investing in healing this fractured relationship. Passive waiting would have had him staying in the heart of the action until God cleared the path for him. Impatience would have had him try to seize God's promise by trying to overcome Esau himself or by trying to become holy in his own eyes. Patient waiting keeps its eyes on the goal, weighs up the costs and applies wisdom.
Saint Benedict suggests that we pray for “patience to wait for you”.
- Remember who you are waiting for.
- Remind yourself of God's promises.
- Wait actively: Remember the 10 virgins. Be prepared. Do what you can, not what you can't.
- Wrestle. And prevail.
Father, give us patience to wait for you.