Growing up, our kitchen bulletin board across from the refrigerator was filled with doctor appointment card reminders, ball schedules – and lots of inspirational quotes, mostly courtesy of my mom. She would tack up clippings from the many newspapers and magazines she read.
One of the quotes that sticks out in my mind:
“The grist of God grinds slowly – but it grinds exceedingly fine.”
The expression dates back to the second or third century’s Sextus Empiricus, a Greek philosopher. It seems then, like now, people struggled with patience and wishing things would happen more quickly.
No matter the century, forbearance and long-suffering doesn’t come easily. Empiricus’ perspective came to mind the other day in the aftermath of the disappointing Ohio vote to increase the percentage threshold on state constitutional amendments. As it stands now, a mere majority will be necessary to enshrine abortion “rights” into state law this November.
The battle to protect every preborn life under law has been raging for a half-century. Many of the original pro-life advocates are no longer with us. The fall of Roe was satisfying and necessary, but the work goes on. Instead of one front in the war, there are now fifty.
The hijacking of the definition of marriage, the attack on masculinity and femininity, and the assault on religious freedom these last few years have put Christians on the defensive. Committed advocates have pushed back, and many of the battles rage red hot.
So, we engage. We push back. Sometimes we win. Sometimes we lose. We never give up. For victory, patience, along with persistence, will be necessary.
Solomon wrote, “Hot tempers cause arguments, but patience brings peace” (Proverbs 15:18). James counseled, “You also must be patient. Keep your hopes high, for the day of the Lord’s coming is near” (5:8). The Apostle Paul said as much when he urged believers to “not be anxious about anything” (Phil. 4:6).
It’s really not true that history repeats itself. It’s human nature that doesn’t change. We’re all prone to impatience, whether growing weary in our efforts to protect innocent life or confronting radical activists who are trying to transform culture by upending God’s design for humanity. When we don’t like what we see, we want things to change – and now.
Of course, God’s timing is often very different from ours. Peters tells us, ‘With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:8-9).
Leo Tolstoy once said that the two most powerful warriors in life were patience and time. The late pastor and theologian Warren Wiersbe observed that “Some of your greatest blessings come with patience.”
Can you relate? Perhaps a long-awaited spouse, or a child that arrived after years of infertility? Maybe a new professional opportunity that seemed delayed or lost for good that suddenly came like a bolt out of the blue?
I remember standing one cold day at the graveside of a friend who died too young. The minister led in prayer and then said softly, “Remember this is not the end of the story.”
The story unfolding in culture these days often seems uneven, tragic, and even hopeless at times. As believers, though, we know that however upside-down and inside-out it may all seem, the end of the story has yet to be told.