Just a Lot of Patience
I know everyone is so tired of reading, hearing, and suffering through COVID-19. Me too. My email inbox is full of “how do we get through this” messages.
So, I’m not going to talk much about COVID-19, other than to say it has put many, many people into a very unsustainable position both economically and mentally. For a lot of reasons, this state of money and mind seems awfully similar to my first eighteen months fighting multiple myeloma.
Just get me through the day
During those months, I was locked away either because of spine operations, the myeloma itself, or my stem cell transplant aftereffects. I wasn’t as bored as I seem to be these days, but my “boredom” has only been a phenomenon the past week or so. Also, I was in too much pain to get bored back then. I'm pretty sure, I remember my mind being focused on other things.
The one thing I will never forget though was the whole idea of getting through one day to the next, in hopes that things would be infinitesimally better when I opened my eyes. I had to learn to practice patience and rely heavily on my faith to garner that patience.
Preachy warning! I’m going to quote a verse from the Bible that has helped me both through my multiple myeloma and is now helping through this lockdown. I feel though, that the quote can apply to believers and non-believers. So, read on at your own discretion. Focus on the parts that help you.
The quote I use is:
“We gladly suffer, because we know that suffering helps us to endure. Endurance builds character, which gives us a hope that will never disappoint us. All of this happens because God has given us the Holy Spirit, who fills our hearts with his love.”
Romans 5:1-5 NIV
Every time I read this quote, there are three words that get to me every time; “We gladly suffer”. Really? That line taken on its own it just doesn’t make any sense at all. You have to finish the quote to add the proper context.
To me, the words that add the context are: endure, character, and hope. Before I move ahead, I should let everyone know I am not a theologian, and can’t quote scripture off the cuff. I’m a guy that reads the Bible, then tries to apply it to my life after first trying to understand the world and context it was written in. I realize Paul was talking to people not thinking about pandemics or blood cancers at all, but simply surviving. This is how I apply it to me and all the people suffering right now, watching a new era unfold.
I’ll start with the word endure. The most basic definition is to bear something PATIENTLY. So enduring leads to character, wherein Galatians 5:22, when alluding to Christian character, Paul says it is the “Holy Spirit working in us producing the fruits of love, joy, peace, PATIENCE, kindness, gentleness, goodness, long-suffering, and self-control.” Last, but not least, hope. When we talk about the word hope, we usually equate it to wishful thinking as in I hope [insert team here], wins tonight. The authors of the Bible (from Greek translations) understood the word hope to be the PATIENT expectancy of a promised outcome or the waiting period before a promise was carried out.
As you can see through some leading, the word PATIENCE keeps showing up. Patience is something I have to work on every day. It is also one of those things that will leave you when times are good, when that should be a time of honing your skills. Patience may be the most important trait you can have with or without suffering.
Learning to be grateful, which helps us endure
So, in a nut shell; we suffer gladly, which helps us endure (bear suffering with patience), which helps us build character (rely on the Holy Spirit who produces love, goodness, self-control, and even more patience), allowing us to patiently wait on the promise of undeserved grace and sharing in the glory of God.
In non-religious terms; we suffer with gratefulness, which helps us endure (bear the suffering with patience), which helps us build character, which produces love, goodness, self-control, and even more patience, allowing us to patiently wait on the end of our suffering and grow as a person.
During these times of sheltering, remember the things that got you through all your struggles with your blood cancer. You will probably see that patience played an important role, and can continue to do so.