Patience is not a difficult demand:
Patience, the key to joy, makes hearts expand.
Patience and prudence you’ll need to ascend;
For prudence, patience is a needed friend.
(Masnavi Book III, Rumi, p. 17)
Patience, I believe for many of us, actually can be one of the most difficult demands of all. Patience is a virtue, they say, and patience is a practice. I write this reflection in the time of COVID-19, and if there is one thing we are all growing in during this time, it is patience.
When I consider patience as the key to joy, I deeply agree with Rumi. In life, we are not guaranteed anything and we are not ultimately in control of how our lives unfold. Sometimes, things are delayed. Sometimes, others respond in ways we wish they hadn’t. Sometimes, we are simply annoyed, irritated, or bothered. These are the moments when we need to reach for patience. Patience frees us from our own expectations and allows us to be gracious.
In this time of quarantine, we must be patient with ourselves as we readjust to new norms. We must be patient with others as they, too, are just trying to do the best they can. In difficult, uncertain times, Romans 12:12 reminds us all to “be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, [and] faithful in prayer.” Let us strive toward patience in a time of uncertainty and extend ourselves grace when we fall short.