My guess is that most people would admit that our society does not actively encourage patience. Massive debt comes often at the expense of patiently saving for what we want to buy. Relationship instability can result from each party’s impatience with the other. Atheism grows out of impatience with the failures of religion (and perceived failures of God). When was the last time you waited for the newspaper to arrive to get your news?
My greatest struggle with patience comes from a fear that if I wait too long, I will lose precious time. While there are positives to this approach towards life, it can lead to some damaging consequences if taken too far. In the Besora of Luke, Shimon is the first person to touch Yeshua aside from Miryam and Yosef. We don’t know much about him other than he was a righteous man who yearned for God’s Kingdom. He merited to hold the Messiah in his arms for some specific reason we may never know. Nevertheless, I can’t help but wonder if he merited to do so because he really was waiting and yearning with the willingness to act out of faith in God all at once.
I must admit that I do not think my patience is challenged anywhere nearly as much for my lack of acceptance of what I do not have. Sometimes this is because yearnings can be expressed in the wrong ways. It seems like plenty of people knew that Shimon was going to persist until he saw the Messiah. Yet he did so with the eyes to see Messiah come with patience and complete fervor. He was not a man tapping his toes impatiently saying, “…okay, God…how about now!” He was both patient and eager. Strikingly, he didn’t encounter Yeshua coming in all of his glory. He encountered Yeshua as a baby with nothing but dreams and hopes bundled in blankets. Yet it was enough for Shimon to see the birth of his people’s great hope. This can be instructive for us. Maybe if we had our eyes open to see the birth of our dreams we would be more eager for, and patient in, their coming.
Not all yearnings are good, but many of them are, or they can become so if we yearn for them properly. Patience can only grow when the yearning is balanced and productive. May we all merit to yearn constructively so that we too may hold our dreams with joy as Shimon held the Messiah in his arms.