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Patience for the unseen

First slide

In January, I had spring 2020 meticulously planned. I sketched it out in detail in not one, but three planners. I had a long-range view, a daily up-close detail, and something that fell in between and was open to all the inevitable entries from the outside world that would surely fill the squares. In February, we made sweeping, lifechanging decisions. Those planners each took on new importance.


I have not opened any of those planners in five weeks.


Plans, my friends. Hold them loosely.


Because my planners were full of plans that could not take shape, there was little room in them for the reality of what life had become. I still wanted to embrace the discipline of a plan and a daily examen, so I bought a new planner —  a simple undated affair that I knew I could use to adapt to whatever came —one day at a time. It is a three-month planner. Surely this suspension in time is only three months long, right? This journal has proven itself to be a worthwhile purchase if for no other reason than that on days that feel as though they’re all the same, it’s useful to record how they are utterly unique, important to reflect upon which threads to pull from each and pay attention and give thanks.


But those January planners have beckoned to me all along. They are full of bright promises of new beginnings, hard work we cannot yet commence to do, and goals —  it’s always the goals that get me. I’m eager to begin to make checkmarks in the “finished” column.


If pandemics call us to anything, they call us to patience. I always thought that patience was a nearly effortless virtue of mine. Through no particular achievement of my own, I’ve always been a pretty patient person. It just came naturally.


Now, however, I’m fairly climbing the walls. Could we please get on with the rest of the story?


As I turn the page each day, I’ve taken to writing “He has not encumbered you with this; He’s entrusted you with this” across the top of a new planning page.  It is my reminder to invite God in, my reminder that even if I feel suspended in time, God is still at work. He wants to be fully present as I rewrite my plans. And so I offer him suggestions, editing and rewriting as I go, still trying to make this time conform to my vision. He reminds me that the plan is not ultimately mine and I should not want it to be. I should want him to entrust me with his plan —  not the other way around.


And day by day, he persuades. He is present in the waiting. He is working in the unseen. He has a plan for me —  a plan to prosper me and not harm me, and give me hope and a future (see Jer 29:11-13).


I’ve lived long enough to believe in a God of miracles. And I’ve witnessed enough miracles to know that they are rarely the ones I’m waiting for because usually they are far better than I could have imagined. These are days that call for so much patience, and even more hope.


What is he doing in the waiting? How is he crafting souls in the unseen? Tribulations can both demand and develop tenacious patience in us, a much more refined patience than the one we always thought we had. And that patience will strengthen our character and give us a heightened sense of expectation for what comes next —  the good that comes next.


He has entrusted us with a time of waiting. He asks us only to be patient and faithful as he works in the unseen places we cannot even imagine.


Foss, whose website is takeupandread.org, writes from Northern Virginia.






© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020