Sunday, May 24, 2015
Acts 2:1-21; Romans 8:22-27
“No Patience Here”
The characters in Raymond Carver’s “A Small Good Thing” live “with sighs too deep for words” (Romans 8:26). This short story by one of America’s greatest writers is about Scotty, who is hit by a car while walking to school the week of his eighth birthday. His mother, Ann Weiss, has already gone to the local bakery and ordered a special cake for the birthday boy. Everything had seemed right in the world of Ann and Howard Weiss.
Everything changes in the Weiss family’s world as Scotty is taken to the hospital and slips deeper and deeper into a coma. Raymond Carver takes the reader into the pain and bondage of the Weiss’ agony—an agony that Paul knew as he wrote to the church in Rome. In Romans 8:22–27, the apostle foretells a future glory but is mindful of the “groaning” and “sighs” that belong to the “children of God” in the present age. Paul asserts that “the sufferings of this present time” are “not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us” (8:18). Clearly, Paul knows that pastorally he cannot focus solely on the future glory. It is the present suffering that is on his mind as he writes to the Christians in Rome—particularly in this brief passage.
Many things in our lives leave us groaning. Issues of social justice, natural disaster, war, family, physical health, mental health, and personal security come to mind. Anxiety can leave us paralyzed if we let it. Paul says that “if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” (Romans 8:25) That sounds great, but is easier to say than it is to live out. Often, we find ourselves with no patience at all as we yearn and groan for comfort, peace, healing, and change.
As we celebrate and remember the gift of the Holy Spirit on this Pentecost Sunday, let’s not be too patient in our waiting. God’s presence in our lives is meant to be transformative. If we stop with knowing about God and never get around to knowing God then we’ve missed the point. Our hope is inextricably tied to our willingness to allow God to be transformative in our lives and in our community. I can’t wait!