I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. – Philippians 1:3-6
Do you ever struggle with things in life that are frustratingly contradictory? The term for such occurrences is oxymoron. At first glance, you may think this term would describe a dim-witted person with an acne problem, but thanks to our friends at dictionary.com we learn that definition of an oxymoron is actually…
“a figure of speech by which a locution produces an incongruous, seemingly self-contradictory effect…”
Rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? I guess that’s why most people define oxymorons by giving examples of them. Things like “jumbo shrimp,” “deafening silence,” or the one I demonstrate most often; “clearly confused.” You can add your own favorite oxymoron to the list, but I think most of us would agree the most frustrating oxymoron we encounter is found on the side of the road. It’s written on a bright yellow, diamond shaped sign, placed at the beginning of a construction zone proudly declaring: Work in Progress!
Road construction is a necessary evil. We despise driving on roads that resemble the surface of the moon, but we share an equal disdain for having to wait or be rerouted by the road closures caused by repair work. But what I think irritates us most as drivers is when we come upon a construction zone on the highway that lasts for several miles, creating traffic backups and slowdowns, only to find that nobody is doing any actual work.
Before I go any further, let me say clearly that my intent is not to criticize construction workers. These people work hard in lousy conditions and get little credit for the work they do. The real issue goes back to our human nature of wanting a perfect road that allows us to have a perfect trip without any hint of trouble. When we must wait, merge, slow down, or let people into our lane, we tend to give a response that varies between mild irritation and irrational rage. Makes you wonder if the “work in progress” is referring to the condition of the road or the attitudes of the people driving on it!
We are all works in progress. God created us with unique interests and abilities. We also have been created with unique levels of patience and triggers. Some people can effectively manage minor day-to-day issues but panic when facing a major crisis, while others are at their best in an emergency, only to lose their cool when simple things go wrong. This is only one example of the many struggles people have when it comes to managing their emotions, controlling their impulses, and generally being on their best behavior. Add fatigue, frustration, failure or fear and our reactions become even less predictable.
Thankfully, we have a reliably predictable God. The love that He has for His creation has no bounds (Jeremiah 31:3). This can be confirmed in many ways, but none more clearly than in the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ, to redeem us from our sinfulness (Romans 5:8). This undeserved gift brings us back into a right relationship with God, who sends His Holy Spirit to sustain and strengthen our faith. This action allows us the ability to share the word of God and to model our faith to others who may not know Christ and whose interactions with us may be the catalyst to seeking His love and grace.
My prayer for all of us mirrors that of Paul in his words to the Philippians. May God, who began this good work in us, bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life.
And if He can do all that, He can probably help us to tolerate road work with more patience too!