Patience, hard thing! the hard thing but to pray,
But bid for, Patience is! Patience who asks
Wants war, wants wounds; weary his times, his tasks;
To do without, take tosses, and obey.
Rare patience roots in these, and, these away,
Nowhere. Natural heart’s ivy, Patience masks
Our ruins of wrecked past purpose. There she basks
Purple eyes and seas of liquid leaves all day.
We hear our hearts grate on themselves: it kills
To bruise them dearer Yet the rebellious wills
Of us we do bid God bend to him even so.
And where is he who more and more distils
Delicious kindness? – He is patient. Patience fills
His crisp combs, and that comes those ways we know.
– Gerard Manley Hopkins
Was it CS Lewis who said that ‘we read to know we’re not alone’? I think dear old Gerard is more worth reading than most, on that score.
And on the subject of God using current trials to ‘distil delicious kindness’, the writer of Hebrews reminds us that it’s all, ultimately, grounded in our sonship and God’s Fatherhood:
“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? …Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness…. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
…which is amazing, as I’m apt to see struggles and “weary times and tasks” as evidence of God’s lack of care. The writer to the Hebrews says that it is precisely the opposite: these struggles are, instead, evidence of just how much God cares for us, and longs for the perfecting of His Son’s image in us. Hallelujah!