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Pursuing Faithfulness and Patience in Tribulations
“And so, let us be glad and bear with patience everything the world throws at us, secure in the knowledge that it is then that we are most in the mind of God.” – St. Basil the Great
As Christians, we are called to walk with faithfulness and patience daily. But what exactly does it mean to be faithful or patient? How do these virtues manifest in our interactions, our thoughts, our prayers, and our preoccupations, and to what extent?
When we pursue any virtue, we pursue it in all aspects of our lives. This means that when we pursue faithfulness, we are faithful to God in every action, every word, and every thought. Likewise, when we pursue patience, we are patient with the Lord, with our neighbors, with ourselves, and with our circumstances.
Moreover, when we decide to pursue these virtues, we are committed to practicing them even in tribulation when it is difficult to do so.
So, how can we practice being faithful as we endure tribulation?
Being faithful toward God in tribulation means trusting that He is over all our ways and that He is in control. It means trusting that He sees us and has allowed us to be in certain circumstances. It means trusting that He will take our circumstances and work them together for good because, “[We] know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
But where does this kind of faith come from?
We are told in Proverbs 3:5 to trust in the Lord with all our hearts and to lean not on our own understanding. Our faith, therefore, in all circumstances and especially in tribulation, should be in our Lord and not in ourselves. Furthermore, we are confident placing our lives in His hands, because the Lord says, “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
If we trust in the Lord with all our hearts, and if the Lord Himself has told us that He is with us and will strengthen us, why should we worry? How can we worry about our tribulations, about what is happening in the world around us, when we know that His ways are higher than our ways, and that His thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:9)? Surely, the Lord’s immeasurable love for His creation, His desire to work things together for good, and His unlimited ability to do so, when taken together, should reassure us that our tribulations are no match for our God.
We should be careful so as not to sorrow as if we have no hope or to sorrow as those who have not tasted and seen His goodness. We must be sure to truly leave our troubles in His hands and to refrain from worrying as soon as we finish praying about them. If we are truly faithful, as sons and daughters of the Most High God ought to be, we must remember that in difficult times, our hope is in Him alone.
As we place our tribulations in His hands with faith that He will comfort us and work all things together for good, we must turn our focus in our pursuit of faithfulness to something greater, His Kingdom. We are reminded in Colossians 3:2-3, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
In times of tribulation, we are reminded of our mortality, our limitedness, and our need for God. Therefore, times of tribulation present as times of prayer, times to entreat God, and times to repent and focus on Him.
In addition, building a relationship with God cannot be separated from walking in love toward our neighbors. This means that being faithful in tribulation should lead us to lend a helping hand to those in need, to support the people around us in different capacities, and to comfort one another. When we spend time with God, we gain this comfort from Him and are then able to share it with others, as is written in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
If we remain faithful as we endure these trials, this will also produce patience, as St. James asserted, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4).
And what does it mean to be patient?
Patience manifests in the thoughts and actions we pursue while waiting on the Lord to deliver us from tribulation. Certainly, patience does not mean quiet frustration, nor does it mean unspoken resentment toward God or others. We must not curse His name for allowing us to endure trials, but rather, we should follow Job, saying, “… The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).
As we wait on the Lord, we should accept with humility what He has allowed us to endure and we should entreat Him to strengthen us. We should remain thankful for everything, concerning everything, and in everything. We should entreat the King of Peace to grant us His peace, rather than allow ourselves to enter into a spiral of panic and confusion, or form a list of complaints against Him. We should turn to fasting and prayer as we have been taught, and call upon Him, because our faith is in Him. At all times, we should remember the Lord’s words to Saint Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
In every condition, we must remember what it means to truly be faithful and wait on the Lord, and we must always remember to “[Seek] first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).