Be Patient in Perseverance : John Minami
Colossians 1:9-12 (ESV)
9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might for all endurance and patience with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.
I started attending church when I was a freshman in high school, and it has been a daily struggle with my family since then. My family is not Christian, so every Sunday service, every weekday meeting, every retreat, every praise team practice, every prayer, every time I remotely mention God, it would always turn into a huge fight. They would argue that it is a waste of time and money. I hated when they would try to dissuade me from following and relying on God. After all, it was not like I could rely on them.
My dad left my family when I was at a young age. This left my mom to take care of me, my two sisters and my grandparents all on her own. This meant that our family went through a lot of financial and emotional turmoil growing up. Throughout my life, my mom relied on me a lot. Even as early as when I was in middle school, she would pour out her burdens onto me. She had the world on her shoulders and had no one to turn to. So she turned to me. I had to console her through many bouts of depression and painfully hear many frank discussions about her mental state and our family’s financial statuses. I felt as if I had not only lost my dad but also my mom. I could never go to her with my own worries or struggles when she was already piling so much onto me.
Seeing and hearing how much my family was suffering, eventually led me to give up my dream of becoming a doctor. I loved my family and I wanted to do everything I could do to ease their burdens. I worked hard and took on a lot of the financial and emotional burdens on myself, so they could rest a little easier. So I ended up pursuing a career that I did not love and chose a job that would allow me to make money as quickly as possible.
Often at times, I felt like it was too much for me to handle. In these times, God was always there for me. He was always a comforting presence in my life and there was no way I could’ve acted as a central pillar in my family without my foundation in Him. Yet, they continued to seek to chip away at that foundation.
I prayed for them to meet Christ for over a decade. I often felt God telling me to have hope in their salvation, so I faithfully prayed. But over the years, it became harder and harder to pray and have hope. Praying for them to meet God while they actively discouraged me from knowing God was really hard for me. I felt like I was trying to support them emotionally, financially and now even spiritually. Even though, deep down, I knew God was there with me, I easily became blinded by the problems directly in front of me.
It got to the point where I took almost a three-year break from God and church. All my close friends were shocked when I would tell them that I was no longer attending church. They knew the passion and faith I had had so they couldn’t believe that I had walked away from it. But they didn’t know the pain I had to endure during that time. It had been painful for me to attend church on my own, feeling God’s joy and presence and knowing that my family were not able to experience the same thing. It was especially painful when we would have family events at church. I hated seeing other happy, Christian families. I just felt alone and broken. Ironically, the period I stopped attending church was the happiest period I have ever experienced with my family since there will be no friction.
It was really hard when I eventually started attending church again. We started fighting again and arguing and our relationship became strained. I felt more pain from them than I had ever felt before. And yet, I felt even more love from God than I had ever felt before. I would pray desperately for God to take this pain away and just allow them to know Him but instead, He would show me even more of His love and ask me to be patient.
I have never been a patient person. I want results immediately – especially, when it is about my family meeting Christ. I often feel anxious when I think about the uncertainty of their salvation. But I know God is calling me to have hope. I’m going to try my best. I know I won’t always be steadfast in my faith or hope but I know that God will always be there to hold me up when I falter. I may believe that I am the pillar of my family and I am holding them up but that is just my pride and ignorance. The pillar of my family is God who works through me. And whether they know it or not, they are already relying on God because I rely on God. I am just waiting (with great hope) for the day when they realize this undeniable truth.
For Your Reflection
It can be tiring and even frustrating to not be able to see the fruit of our labor and prayers immediately. This is when God calls us to trust Him and wait on Him. Let’s ask God to give us faith and to strengthen us with His power so that we may be able to be patient in our perseverance.