So that you may … grow in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience and giving joyful thanks to the Father. (Col 1:10ff NIV)
Every level of spirituality has its special blessings and grants growth and progress for the life of the inner being. Diligence in good works also promotes a wonderful development in the recognition of God’s will and ways and even an appropriate personal relationship with him – the source and fount of all goodness. In this verse the Apostle hints at a twofold lack on the side of the Colossians: Patience and forbearance together with an ongoing thankfulness. Patience burdened with hardship carries a heavy load. If sin, discrimination and evil inflicted by others is added to this, forbearance is necessary to hold out. Natural virtues go far, but before God they are not meritorious and rather ineffective. Patience and forbearance however which give joyful thanks to the Father are signs of a spiritual and heavenly attitude appropriate to the servants of Christ the King. This is the depiction of a spiritual carrier of burdens, who is going about his calling with joyful thanksgiving. That is something truly wonderful and even beautiful drama – and is really only to be found in perfection with Jesus Christ. Yet the apostle prays that the Colossian congregation be like this – every member of it. Thus we are encouraged to pray for this amongst us, our congregation and worldwide Church too.
Just, holy God and Father! If ever injustice and sinful evil should distract us from your rule and will, then help us to be patient and to stand faithfully even as we are in danger of falling and being felled. Nurture trust and hope in us, that we trust you more and more, so that we fix ourselves to your guidance and recognize it as our privilege as children to be led safely and surely by your loving and caring hand. Whatever people inflict on us, let us bear it without grudge and animosity. Rather focus our mind, soul and heart, spirit and being on to your grace and glory. In all affliction, temptation and misery direct our eyes onto the end, when your Son will return visibly to complete your good will and all most gloriously and you will take us up into your heavenly kingdom as you have promised. Amen. (A. Hermann)
1 God, take my hand and lead me upon life’s way; direct, protect, and feed me from day to day. Without your grace and favour I go astray, so take my hand, O Saviour, and lead the way.
2 God, when the tempest rages, I need not fear; for you, the Rock of Ages, are always near. Close by your side abiding, I fear no foe, for when your hand is guiding, in peace I go.
3 God, when the shadows lengthen and night has come, I know that you will strengthen my steps toward home, and nothing can impede me, O blessed Friend! So, take my hand and lead me unto the end. (Julie von Hausmann, 1825-1901)
This is a rather free translation of Wilhelm Löhe’s devotion for Wednesday after the twenty-fourth Sunday after the high holiday and festival of the Holy Trinity. It is found on Pg. 386 in Lob sei Dir ewig, o Jesu! (Eternal Praise to you o Jesus!) edited by A. Schuster and published in the Freimund Verlag, Neuendettelsau 1949.