A recent advert would have us believe that ‘impatience is a virtue’ but, as Clare Rabjohns explains, Mary’s example shows that nothing could be further from the truth
The latest advert for Samsung gives you its message directly because, it tells us, waiting drives us up the wall’ and ‘waiting doesn’t get to the front, waiting never finishes first’ The advert goes on to say that impatience is ‘in first, on top and at the front’ and the slogan for the phone that Samsung is promoting is Impatience is a virtue!
Student culture at the moment in this country lives life according to this mantra, and it is not surprising. University life does mean you are living in the fast lane and burning the candle atboth ends. As a student myself, I can testify that, like the advert says, you do get up early and stay out late! There are so many opportunities to take advantage of and not much time to do it. Students are influenced heavily by this branch of culture because you are constantly striving to achieve, pushing yourself further and daily learning from experience. A certain amount of drive and energy is necessary to survive your university life.
However, even though it may seem counter-cultural, I think it is necessary to disagree with this outlook on life.
It would be impossible to get through life at university without patience. Life as a student is all about waiting. You begin by waiting for your A level results; you end by waiting for your degree results. Patience starts to become central to your way of life.
There are so many times when you have to be patient with yourself, maybe because you don’t know how to use a washing machine or because you are still experimenting with your alcohol tolerance levels! But more seriously, you are learning and changing, your character is being formed and this is a painstaking process.
Within this process there are countless occasions when you make the wrong decision or don’t quite reach your goals and you need to learn to wait patiently.
Patience is one of the fruits of the spirit listed in Galatians and is a vital part not only of student living but also of Christian living. An example of patient Christian living can be seen clearly in the life of Mary. She receives the angel’s message and then waits patiently for the impact that it will have on her life. She waits patiently throughout her pregnancy, not knowing what will happen once her child is born. And then, once Jesus is born, she waits patiently for him to begin his ministry, knowing his life and teaching will change the world. As he carries his cross to Calvary, she waits patiently for his last breath. And finally she waits patiently for his resurrection.
Mary’s task was to watch and wait patiently, often knowing that the situation was out of her control.
The factor that makes Mary’s fulfilment of this task possible and fruitful is that she is patiently waiting in trust. This is something that is not evident in the Samsung world and often not evident in student life.
Samsung encourages us to be go-getters and that waiting and patience will get us nothing. Student living is connected with learning to be self-sufficient and there is often not time for patience. All these factors are not bad things in themselves but there must be a move to stamp out the culture that says waiting doesn’t get to the front’.
If we follow Mary’s example, we will not only live a life full of purpose and potential but also find freedom.
Samsung tells us that patiently waiting is a trap and does not lead to achievement. Mary shows us that patiently waiting whilst putting your trust in the Lord is a way to fulfil your purpose. Samsung describes its new phone as ‘faster, brighter and better’ and says ‘Impatience is a virtue! But God can give us a life that is ‘freer, brighter and blessed’