This is a season of turmoil and uncertainty that strains to the limits our capacities for patience, trust, and hope. Although these virtues may seem beyond our grasp, in fact they are not. Rather, as the gifts of God’s grace, they support us in persistence—even in growth--in the midst of difficult circumstances.
Here is advice from Teilhard de Chardin, the 20th Century French Jesuit, a theologian and anthropologist who studied human evolution . He takes a long view on individual and collective formation in the Christian life:
"Above all, trust in the slow work of God. We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay. We should like to skip the intermediate stages. We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new. And yet it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability – and that it may take a very long time. . . . Give Our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.”
De Chardin’s contemporary, Reinhold Niehbur, the American Protestant theologian and ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, counsels us along similar lines:
“Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we must be saved by love.”
The Rev. Charles Hoffacker is a retired priest of the Diocese of Washington