Scripture:Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Indeed we call blessed those who showed endurance. You have heard of the endurance of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. (James 5:7-8, 10-11)
Reflection: One who leaves all behind in order to follow Jesus must cultivate patience as part of his or her spirituality of mission. Patience, according to the author of the letter of James, is best characterized by the farmer, who plants his crop and then waits for the rain to fall. A person leaves all and gets moving on mission, knowing that the Lord is coming. Maybe a modern image of patience would be the operator of a motor vehicle who drives on the streets and waits for the lights at the intersections to change without any anxiety or road rage.
The result of leaving all behind and cultivating patience is good suffering. Good suffering is hard to find because the world is saturated with pleasure from immediate gratification. A spirituality of mission has no place for immediate gratification; as soon as hardship of any kind comes one’s way, good suffering is abandoned. Endurance, like that of the prophets, builds character, substance, maturity. Without good suffering, there is no growth, and many people remain children throughout their adult lives. Through his innocent suffering, Job came to understand a great truth, namely, God strengthens those he chooses through suffering. In fact, through his endurance, Job not only learned who God was but he also came to a deeper knowledge of himself.
Modern technology is often the antithesis of suffering because no patience is required. If one needs to contact another person, a text, tweet, or email is but a few keystrokes away. Since almost everyone carries a cell phone, no one can escape a telephone call. Information of any kind is available with a search of the internet on the computer. Even the car tells its driver when it wants an oil change, its tires rotated, or its door is open. While modern technology is good in many ways, it removes endurance, good suffering, from life, and, consequently, the development of patience, which is an important ingredient in the spirituality of mission.
Journal/Meditation: In what good suffering are you engaged? How does it produce patience in you?
Prayer: Like the farmer who waits for his precious crop from the earth, I await your coming, Lord. Teach me patience when I speak in your name, and strengthen my heart with endurance through my suffering. You are Lord, forever and ever. Amen.