"Rome wasn't built in a day." If I heard that once, I heard it a hundred times while I was growing up. I was young and impatient, anxious to reach the goals I felt were important. But there was always this irksome reminder that good things take time and great things take even longer.
Now, however, at long last, I am discovering that stuff about Rome is true. And Paul's words to the century-one Christians who lived there are also truer than ever: "But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it" (Rom. 8:25).
Four words jump out at me as I chew on that thought—"we hope . . . we wait." And sandwiched between—"what we do not see"—are the things that take so long. Several examples flash across my mind.
Rearing children. Few processes require more patience. Time and again we parents repeat cautions or instructions until we are blue in the face. We wonder if our words will ever sink in.
So "we hope . . . we wait." Take it by faith—one day you'll find that it sank in . . . and you'll be so glad you persevered.
Accepting defeats. Ours is a winner-oriented world. But isn't it strange that the best lessons are invariably learned from defeat? Pain remains a strict but faithful teacher, and the crucible produces much more character than waving the winner's flag. We know that theoretically. But let some defeat hit us squarely in the chops, and we drop like a two-ton anchor. Job's question—"Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?"—seems to take a lifetime to answer with "yes, we willingly accept both" (Job 2:10).
And so—"we hope . . . we wait."
Appreciating aging. I am amused at the extent to which some folks will go to hide or deny the presence of age. Now, I'm all for keeping one's mind young and body strong and perceptions keen, but the last time I checked, the Scriptures honored age and spoke of gray hair with respect. Besides, it means we are all that much nearer to seeing our Lord face to face . . . a truth for which "we hope . . . we wait."
The good news is that in the process we're gaining wisdom.
And so, fellow Romans, we're in it together . . . we keep hoping and we keep waiting.
Whether you're rearing children or accepting defeat or simply facing the truth that you're getting older, take heart! Better still, relax! You, like ancient Rome, are still being built.
The painful crucible produces much more character than waving the winner's flag. --Chuck Swindoll