We live in an instant culture where answers to problems can be instantly obtained and resolution never seems far away. In church we often talk about change as an immediate process and spend a lot of time focusing on instantaneous healing or freedom. This is all true and all possible but at the same time the Biblical record seems to point towards the virtues of patience and the anticipation of God’s action.
I was struck by a graph in a psychology book that I was reading this week which attempted to plot the rate of behavioural change against the intensity of thoughts and feelings over a 1 year period. It was clear that whilst behaviour could change in an instant, feelings and then thoughts took much longer to change. I thought about how this is often true in the journey of conversion and discipleship.
In an instant we are forgiven by Jesus. Behaviour is very often the first thing that changes as a person begins to submit their life to God. Then over a period of time the persons feelings begin to reflect the joy of their forgiveness, they reflect what it feels like to know peace. Finally their thought life begins to take on the shape of the Christian life. Paul says in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things”.
I sense a frustration amongst Christians struggling with emotional and mental health issues that instant healing isn’t often forthcoming. Acceptance is helpful, but at times can seem to lack hope and faith. This has left me wondering if our impatience isn’t half of our problem. Our thought and emotional lives can take a long time to adapt to even the most minor changes and so being patient as the changes take place is essential to the healing journey. In Colossians 1:11 Paul prays that, “being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might you may have great endurance and patience”.
This is also my prayer for you today.