Scripture: Psalm 145
Key verse: (8) The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
Reflection: If ever I need a reminder that God’s ways are not my ways (Isaiah 55:8-9), I can simply remember this conviction of the psalmist: God is slow to anger. Like most Americans, I like when things move quickly. So, I have been known to utter some not-very-pastoral words over slow-moving traffic, to feel exasperation at an inefficient checkout queue, and my husband has started quietly laughing about my “calm parent voice,” which he alleges I employ when I’m about to reach my limit (hey, I admit it, that 4 p.m. hour requires a whole lot of patience and grace and fresh air). I am a naturally impatient person.
That is why I find this word about God being slow to anger to be so comforting. Sometimes, I think we imagine God to be like an impatient judge, waiting for us bumbling creatures to figure it all out, finally get it all right, and actually live like people who know they are profoundly loved. Of course, we should strive to, “live lives worthy of the calling to which [we] have been called,” which is to say we should live differently because of God’s love (Eph 4:1). I wonder, though, how trusting that God is patient with us would free us to offer more patience to ourselves and others, even and especially when we find we’ve made a few missteps along the way. What if remembering God’s patience with us could help us offer grace to one another when we disappoint each other or hurt each other? And, what if it helped reframe the life of faith for us: life with God is about an ongoing relationship, not a race to perfection, and God is in it with us for the long haul. Imagine a world filled with people who believe in what Pierre Teilhard de Chardin called, “the slow work of God” (look it up!), seeing others as people to love instead of problems to solve – which is to say, seeing others the way God sees them.
Prayer: Thank you for hanging in there with me when I am prone to impatience with myself and others, O God. Teach me, again and again, what a great gift that is, so that I can learn to share it with others. Amen.
Author: Anna Dickson
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].