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I have visited Calcutta, India, a place of poverty, death, and irremediable human problems. There, the nuns trained by Mother Teresa serve the poorest, most miserable people on the planet: half-dead bodies picked up from the streets of Calcutta. The world stands in awe at the sisters’ dedication and the result of their ministry, but something about these nuns impresses me even more: their serenity. If I tackled such a daunting project, I would likely be scurrying about, faxing press releases to donors, begging for more resources, gulping tranquilizers, grasping at ways to cope with my mounting desperation. Not these nuns.
Their serenity traces back to what takes place before their day’s work begins. At four o’clock in the morning, long before the sun, the sisters rise, awakened by a bell and the call, “Let us bless the Lord.” “Thanks be to God,” they reply. Dressed in spotless white saris, they file into the chapel, where they sit on the floor, Indian-style, and pray and sing together. On the wall of the plain chapel hangs a crucifix with the words, “I thirst.” Before meeting their first “client,” they immerse themselves in worship and in the love of God.
I sense no panic in the sisters who run the Home for the Dying and Destitute in Calcutta. I see concern and compassion, yes, but no obsession over what did not get done. In fact, early on in their work Mother Teresa instituted a rule that her sisters take Thursdays off for prayer and rest. “The work will always be here, but if we do not rest and pray, we will not have the presence to do our work,” she explained. These sisters are not working to complete a caseload sheet for a social service agency. They are working for God. They begin their day with him; they end their day with him, back in the chapel for night prayers; and everything in between they present as an offering to God. God alone determines their worth and measures their success.—Philip Yancey1
Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him.2
Have you prayed and prayed and waited and waited, and still there is no manifestation?
Are you tired of seeing nothing move? Are you just at the point of giving it all up? Perhaps you have not waited in the right way.
“With patience wait.”3 Patience takes away worry.
He said He would come, and His promise is equal to His presence. Patience takes away your weeping. Why feel sad and despondent? He knows your need better than you do, and His purpose in waiting is to bring more glory out of it all. Patience takes away self-works. The work He desires is that you “believe,”4 and when you believe, you may then know that all is well. Patience takes away all want. Your desire for the thing you wish is perhaps stronger than your desire for the will of God to be fulfilled in its arrival.
Patience takes away all weakening, all wobbling. … God's foundations are steady, and when His patience is within us, we are steady while we wait. Patience gives worship. A praiseful patience sometimes “long-suffering with joyfulness”5 is the best part of it all. “Let (all these phases of) patience have her perfect work,”6 while you wait and you will find great enrichment.—C. H. P.7
Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass.8
When you retire at night, you do not worry all night lest the bed break down. Neither do you hold on to something for fear of falling. Very little rest would you find in that way. No! You simply trust yourself to the bed and just rest. Thus we should trust ourselves wholly to Jesus, and “cease from our own works as God did from His.”9 “We that believe do enter into rest.” Why? Because someone else is going to do [the work] for us. God requires us to yield and trust in Him and His Word. Trust for all you need. Trust with all your heart. Trust all the time. … Commit! And then committed, trust His Word!—Mrs. Charles E. Cowman10
If you don’t know what to do, stop! Get quiet and wait for God to do something. The worst thing in the world you can do is to keep on going when you don’t know what to do. That was King Saul’s mistake. He kept right on going, even after he didn’t know what to do; he figured he had to keep busy and keep going no matter what—and it lost him the kingdom.11
Getting quiet before the Lord shows you have faith that God is going to handle the situation, that He’s going to take care of things for you. It shows you trust the Lord. “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”12 … If you’re confused, worrying, fretting, and fuming, then you’re not trusting. You don’t have the faith you ought to have. Trusting is a picture of complete rest and peace of mind, heart, and spirit. You may have to continue working, but your attitude and spirit are calm.
When you truly trust the Lord, you can have peace in the midst of storm and calm in the eye of the hurricane. That’s when your faith gets tested, in the midst of turmoil. Quietness is a sign of faith.—David Brandt Berg13
“Take … no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.”14
The reason our Lord gives against anxiety for the future is that we have nothing to do with the future. God gives us life by days, little single days. Each day has its own duties, its own needs, its own trials and temptations, its own grief and sorrows. God always gives us strength enough for the day as He gives it, with all that He puts into it. But if we insist on dragging back tomorrow’s cares and piling them on top of today’s, our strength will not be enough for the load. God will not add strength just to humor our whims of anxiety and distrust.
So the lesson is that we should keep each day distinct and attend strictly to what it brings us. Charles Kingsley says: “Do today’s duty, fight today’s temptation, and do not weaken and distract yourself by looking forward to things which you cannot see, and could not understand if you saw them.” We really have nothing to do with the future, save to prepare for it by doing with faithfulness the duties of today.
We can always get along with our heaviest load for one day till the sun goes down. Tomorrow? You may have no tomorrow; you may be in heaven. If you are here, God will be here too, and you will receive new strength sufficient for the new day.—J. R. Miller15
Published on Anchor February 2014. Read by Tina Miles.
1 Reaching for the Invisible God (Zondervan, 2000).
2 Psalm 37:7.
3 Romans 8:25.
4 John 6:29.
5 Colossians 1:11.
6 James 1:4.
7 Streams in the Desert, Volume 1 (Zondervan, 1965).
8 Psalm 37:5.
9 Hebrews 4:10.
10 Streams in the Desert, Volume 2 (Zondervan, 1977).
11 1 Samuel 13:7–14.
12 Isaiah 26:3.
13 God Online (Aurora Production, 2001).
14 Matthew 6:34.
15 Come Ye Apart: Meditations on the Four Gospels.