Let us, however, come to the real point. We have been speaking all the time about [God’s patience with] “the” world, about man in general. But God’s patience is His patience with me. And I to some extent am able to judge what that means. I can judge because I know how difficult it is to be patient with myself. It nearly drives me mad having to bear with myself… We all know the misery, the bitter sterility, when day after day and year after year passes and things never change. One tries for so long to overcome this situation but it refuses to yield. One appears to have overcome it for a time perhaps and then it suddenly returns. And sometimes it seems a though after wearing oneself out trying to overcome it, seven demons have taken the place of the original one.
If God’s attitude to us is the same as our own attitude to ourselves, then the outlook is black indeed. If God takes as poor a view of me as I do myself, if God does not bear with my bungling, my dishonesty, my constant failures with greater patience than I do myself, then I am bound to give up in despair. But God is love. And in Him my nature is truer than in myself. In me it is corrupt; in Him it is pure. In His most holy patience He holds in His love my nature which I myself disfigure so terribly and squander so thoughtlessly. From this loving patience He sees and bears me. He has infinite confidence in me. He believes that I am capable of making progress.
We sometimes feel we must get away from ourselves, that we must escape from the old into the new and real, that sometime or other there must come what the Bible calls conversion, a decisive turning to God. But it does not come, and meanwhile life wastes away. The older we get the faster it goes and the more difficult we find it to believe that things can ever be different. Perhaps the greatest thing about God’s patience is the infinite possibilities of love and Grace which He holds open to life as it hardens in its cowardice and runs on to its end.
Can you take this in? This unspeakable, impossible possibility of “hoping against all hope” which, the more body and soul harden as life ebbs away, must come exclusively from the mind and spirit, from the Holy Spirit of God? This is the ultimate depth of God’s patience to which we can pray, that He may keep open for us the possibility of spiritual renewal when all other possibilities have ceased. (Romano Guardini)
Joey McCoy is a medical student at the University of Michigan. He enjoys hot water, Josef Pieper, the sound of waves, and anything pertaining to Evangelization.