Thursday, July 23, 2015
“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” ― Corrie ten Boom
Patience is a virtue, or so I have always been told. If patience just means waiting without worrying then I’ve got that down cold. If it means not acting when you should act, then there is no virtue in that, for that in my opinion, is just cowardice. Earnest Hemingway had a code, the so-called “Hemingway Code” created by literary critics and not by Hemingway himself, called “grace under pressure” because many of his protagonists embodied that quality. I like that phrase and think that it, rather than anything to do with waiting, is much more indicative of what I would consider patience. It is certainly what Christ showed in every confrontation when his enemies tried to get the better of him. It is the kind of thing that you see in people of great strength whether or not they are winning a particular battle. Two protestant clergymen were going to be burned at the stake in England because of their beliefs. One, Master Ridley, was scared to death and crying in his despair, but the other, Hugh Latimer told him, “Play the man, Master Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.” That’s what I call “grace under pressure” and can only hope that under similar circumstances, I would act the in the same way. Worry gets you nothing, and it was something that Christ considered to be a real problem because He addressed it specifically, “Which of you, by worrying, can add a single hour to your life's span?” (Luke 12:25) In reality, it is a medical fact that worrying can shorten your life and rob you of the joy of living. That is not to say you should never be concerned about things because lions and rattlesnakes both demand our concern and respect. If we know we are dealing with a rattlesnake, we know how to behave and what precautions to take. The problems come when a thing we naively thought was a teddy bear turns out to be a rattlesnake—then we get bit and sometimes die, so we need to learn and know the difference. Concern means you learn what the truths are about things and what you can do to combat, offset, or deal with them. Worrying accomplishes nothing, other than diminishing your own capacity to live, to love, to care for others, and to imitate Christ. Probably why He found it important enough to speak some rather stern words against it. When you pray for God to give you wisdom, discernment, and strength, you are asking God to give you the things you need to demonstrate your own “grace under pressure” in the face of physical loss, serious illness, financial problems, and threats to you and your family. God will give us all we need to face any adversity if we but ask. We were never promised heaven on earth no matter how blindly and eagerly we chase it. I have known many rich and famous people, but none could ever protect themselves from serious illness, loss of both wealth and fame, and a complete reversal of their fortunes. I have also known people like that who refused to let cancer, suicides of loved ones, fortunes disappearing, or other terrible things to get the better of them. They showed “grace under pressure” and fought back. Some of the greatest love I have ever seen or experienced has come from people dying or willing to sacrifice themselves for the sake of those they love. I have yet to see a film that adequately displays how I think Christ lived His final days because I believe that He never despaired and always embodied love and forgiveness for those who were persecuting and crucifying Him. We must all learn to show that our love of Christ has given us the ability to show the “grace under pressure” that His love of us has engendered within us. Seeing someone wringing their hands and crying with worry just makes me pity them. Seeing someone willing to “light a candle” that will never be put out—that’s what fills me with the desire to do likewise. Go and love. Go and care. Go and forgive. Go and serve others in spite of your handicaps and infirmities. We are not called to be perfect, but we are called to love even our enemies.