Of course, Paul knew this. Patience never comes easily for activists, and Paul was one of the world's great activists. We first see him actively persecuting Christians. He thought he was serving God. This changed when he met the risen Christ on the road to Damascus. The persecutor of the Christians became one of them. Paul, the activist, wanted to serve God actively as a Christian, but the church would not allow it at that time. They were suspicious of him because of his past actions. He went off to Arabia and faded from view for at least ten years. Then Barnabus came and invited him to join him on a missionary journey. We know the rest of the story.
Those years of being relegated to the sidelines, of patient waiting, must have been hard on Paul the activist. I am sure his suffering was great, but I doubt he was really inactive. I assume those years were years of thought and reflection during which he incorporated his old faith with his new. It was those years of patient waiting which enabled him to become the great missionary he became and to write more of what we now call "scripture" than any other person. Among the words he wrote are these: "More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces patience, and patience produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us..." (Romans 5:3-5).
©1997 C. David Hess