We urge you, brothers, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all men.

1 Thessalonians 5: 14

 

This is something that I don’t really want to admit. Yet, I have been all of the people that are described in the first half of this verse, and my way of behaving has certainly required God and the people around me to need to exercise patience. There may not have been any instances when I picked up the furniture and threw it around the room, but I have been angry and frustrated to the point of acting very badly in the presence of others. My personal failure to trust God and to proceed through life with the courage that is fueled by this trust has happened far too many times. The utter exhaustion that comes from living in this hostile world has taken all of the energy and the will to keep going out of my legs on several occasions.

 

These are all times when God’s direct and personal involvement in my life has been incredibly meaningful. The Lord never leaves me in a weakened condition for any longer than I require to understand my responsibility for my situation and to trust in God’s answer for it. Frequently, the truth that brings me out of the troubled state is provided by people who seek and understand the Lord’s wisdom, and who are willing to follow Christ’s model of engaging honestly in people’s lives. It seems that frequently Christ’s voice is heard coming from the mouths of people in my community of faith.

 

The hardest aspect of this process of engagement is probably God’s requirement that we do it with patience. When I have taken the personal risk that is required to enter into a hard conversation with someone, I am ready for that person to embrace my insight and wisdom and just get on with it. However, this is not the way that most of us function. Real change of the sort that beings about Christ’s transformative living takes time. Truly walking through life with others demands that we set aside personal agendas and timelines and embrace God’s view of people’s needs. In the end, God wants us to do what is of primary importance to Him; that is, He wants us to enter into true relationship with others.

 

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