Pierre Teilhard de Chardin captures an important aspect of faith in these lines from a prayer.
Breathing in: Trust in . . .
Breathing out: the slow work of God.
How many of us remember to trust in the slow work of God? Last year, one of my students said to me, “It sure would be nice if God could answer your prayers in the same amount of time it takes to get a Happy Meal.” I had to stop and remind him that Happy Meals do not always make you happy, at least not in the long run, and that they are not always healthy. However his question got at an important point. How often do we expect God to hear and answer our prayers instantaneously? Do we only trust in God when they are answered quickly or do we trust in the slow work of God?
Having faith is about being patient and trusting that things are going to turn out the way they are supposed to in our lives. I remember reading a story about someone who said that most of the problems in her life would not have existed, had she remembered to be patient and remember that God’s timeline is not ours. While most of us say that, or similarly that God’s ways are not our way, how many of us remember to be patient and trust in the slow work of God.
Trust and patience then seem to be related. It seems as if it is hard to trust in the slow work of God if one is not practicing patience. Perhaps what we need to give up is the need for instant gratification. Our prayers are not always answered instantaneously. Often we just have trust in the slow work of God.
Sometimes the work of God has to be slow, so that we have time to make the gradual adjustments in our life. For example, over the last 8 months I have lost 64 lbs. Losing that weight gradually has given my body and mind time to gradually adjust to how I look, feel, and do things. If I woke up one morning and weighed 64 lbs. less than I had the night before, I might have troubles adjusting to this rapid change.
Sometimes we have to be patient and know that our Higher Power is moving everything and everyone in place so that God’s work can be done. A friend of mine waited 20 years for her soulmate to come into her life. Yet, as they looked back over time, they could see all the little changes that were happening across time so that they could find each other and be the people they needed at that point in time. They both also agreed that had they met 20 years earlier, they would not have been the perfect couple for each other. They trusted in the slow work of God.
In those moments, when you find yourself being impatient or doubting if God is hearing your prayers. Stop and remember this prayer and as you breathe in, say Trust in . . . and as you breathe out say, the slow work of God.