Something better

“If we do not trust as much as we pray, we do incomplete honor to our Lord in our prayer, and also we delay and pain ourselves....Sometime it comes to our mind that we have prayed a long time, and yet, we believe that we have not received our request. However because of this we should not be sad, for I am certain, in keeping with our Lord's purpose, that either we are to await a better time, or more grace, or a better gift.” (Revelations Chapter 42)

These three possibilities— a better time, more grace, or a better gift—are all positive motives that Julian offers to be patient for what we ask for in prayer. But what does “patient” mean in such a context? Two things: full of hope, and humility.

First, hope. This is not a synonym for “optimism.” Hope is not an attitude of believing things will get better, but a faithful expectancy. It is what a child has toward its mother. If we are full of hope in responding to an apparent delay in a response to our prayer, we hold onto God’s goodness and faithfulness regardless.

Next, humility. Again, this is not a synonym for something else, like modesty. Humility is a stature of truthfulness that lives in awareness of our limitations and God’s loving power, and acts out of that awareness. Humility will keep us from despairing over a “long wait,” since we trust, in hope, that God is doing the best possible thing for us. For some, the “better gift” may in fact be the courage to act.

Hope keeps us attentive both to what we desire, and to God’s providence beyond what we can imagine.

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