why faith requires patience

Last week I started reading Tomas Halik’s book Patience With God.

His central thesis is that the chief difference between Christianity and atheism — faith and unfaith — is not so much that one is more reasonable or can claim more evidence than the other. Rather, Halik contends, the difference is that faith is able to be patient — patient with God, trusting him to deliver on his promises in his own (good) time.

Atheism by contrast presses God to run to our timetable, to deliver on our schedule, to show up when we snap our fingers (like a genie in a bottle) and prove definitively that he’s real.

No doubt there’s something to this. Although, I’d want to be careful attributing a single cause to all atheism — let alone a cause (impatience) that’s generally considered a character flaw!

But I’ve been wondering if perhaps it’s not so much our patience with God as his patience with us that enables us to trust him.

That certainly seems to be the case with Moses in Exodus 4.1-17. It’s not that Moses is a particularly patient or trusting person — he looks like he’s doing all he can to extricate himself from God’s call on his life. Ultimately, the only thing enables Moses to trust and get on with the job is God’s patient accommodation of his doubt and weakness — first in giving him extra signs to perform and then in allowing Aaron to be his moral support.

So faith does require patience — and God’s patience above all!

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