I begin this meditation with an acknowledgement that I am a bit of a “word nerd.” I enjoy unique words that describe events/situations and I am an absolute “sucker” for a well-turned phrase.
Two words have lingered with me throughout this week. These are the words “proximity” and “forbearance.” Both words have been present, if indirectly, in our recent conversations. Indulge me, if you will, as I explore the connection between these two words and the scripture that ties them together.
Proximity is being used as a way of defining social distance. We practice maintaining space in our interactions in order to limit the spread of COVID-19. Lexico.com defines proximity as “nearness in time, space or relationship.” To say our “proximities” radically changed these past two weeks is significantly understated.
- For some of us we are living in closer proximities than ever. Both parents working from home caring for children. Nearness in space and relationship has become ever closer.
- For others of us proximity has been social media, perhaps living alone and staying in contact though a variety of digital means. It means meeting one on one or in small groups. That proximity has also changed.
- Describe your own proximity.
The challenges of the changes of proximity test my/our ability to remain grounded and centered in our faith. In addition, the consistent and constant barrage of information can be overwhelming especially as we sort through the many points of view and struggle to arrive at some modicum of understanding. How long will this last, we wonder?
The concept of forbearance is found in a variety of verses in Scripture and speaks a word of hope and encouragement to us. The actual word forbearance is found largely in the King James Version. One such place is Colossians 3:12-13, “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye" (King James Version).
The NIV says it like this, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you" (New International Version).
The word forbearance is rich and varied. Among its meanings is to hold back, to abstain, to practice patience or making allowance for each other’s faults. Bible Gateway-Encyclopedia of the Bible says it like this, “To exercise calm patience under provocation, avoid resentment and retaliation, be slow to judge and punish, and be ever ready to forgive” (
What a word for us. The constant uncertainty and tension can take a toll on our spirits. It is easy to read unintended meanings into comments or statements, to become upset and angry over actions of our leaders, to retreat into denial, to worry about our economic status, to…….and the list continues.
This Sabbath day let’s remember these words and let them be written upon our hearts. Let us “exercise calm patience under provocation, avoid resentment and retaliation, be slow to judge and punish, and be ever ready to forgive.” May God grant us the strength to practice forbearance in the midst of whatever proximity is yours today.
March 27, 2020