Patience: Guardian of Virtues
But as for that in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance. [Luke 8:15].
Our capacity to endure hardship, difficulty, and suffering starts with patience. It is the basis for equanimity and self-control, buttressing our ability to tolerate pain, and endure wrongs.
Patience is a measure of calmness and also of frustration, of perfection and ineffectiveness, of restraint and restlessness, of faith and disbelief.
Patience, also translated “longsuffering” or “forbearance,” is listed in Galatians 5:22 as part of the fruit of the Spirit. It is the opposite of being anxious, hurried, demanding, or having a short fuse. And it may be one of the most difficult for many of us in the West to manage, not only because of our cultural assumptions but also because it requires giving up control. [Leonard Sweet, I Am a Follower: The Way, Truth, and Life of Following Jesus].
Our patience substitutes for lack of strength. However, spiritual patience is not acceptance out of despair or resignation to necessity. It is submission to hope, and confidence in a trusted promise.
It [to accept God’s judgment] shows us the true nature of patience in regard of God: it is a submission to God’s sovereignty. … To be patient because we cannot avoid it, or resist it, is a violent, not a loyal patience; but to submit because it is the will of God to inflict; to be silent, because the sovereignty of God doth order it, is a patience of a true complexion. [Stephen Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God].
Certificate of Faith
Patience reinforces our faith, weaving endurance into our character and resilience into our willpower. Our prayers and supplications are lined with threads of patience interlaced with belief and hope.
There is nothing which so certifies the genuineness of a man’s faith as his patience and his patient endurance, his keeping on steadily in spite of everything. [Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Its Cure, p. 229].
Persistence, perseverance and endurance improve our tolerance, develop our stamina and enhance our ability to endure hardships. We become decisive, steadfast in our beliefs, and able to uphold firmly our convictions.
Our faith prospers with patience. Our prayers cultivate it in our heart. Faith can move mountains, but we need patience to level them.
Little by little, through patience and repeated effort, the mind will become stilled in the Self [Bhagavad Gita 4:25].
Patience quiets egotistical disappointments, restrains retaliation and moderates selfish responses. It helps us refrain from complaining, from prejudiced opinions and from imposing our ideas on others.
When people are unjust to us, patience outflanks them. Our patience reaches farther than our arms, and accomplishes more than our might. It is the secret weapon that gives us an eternal advantage over faithless enemies.
You are not truly patient if you will only endure what you think fit, and only from those whom you like. A truly patient man does not consider by whom he is tried, whether by his superior, his equal, or his inferior; whether by a good and holy man, or by a perverse and wicked person. But however great or frequent the trial that besets him, and by whatever agency it comes, he accepts it gladly as from the hand of God, and counts it all gain. [Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, Ch. 56].
Escort of Wisdom
Without patience, knowledge is unattainable, and wisdom remains hidden. With patience, we start over again and again, until we succeed. As our patience grows, so does our composure, our discernment and our judgment.
It is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.
[Henry David Thoreau, Walden, p. 8].
Fasting relishes patience. Where there is no patience, there can be no abstinence; temperance becomes impossible without it.
We have largely traded wisdom for information, depth for breadth. We want to microwave maturity. [John Ortberg, The Life You’ve Always Wanted].
We learn to be patient with patience. By slowing our life, by focusing on what is truly important, we learn to remove unnecessary stressors, and to focus on the eternally significant.
Patience is companion of wisdom … patience is the friend of a good conscience …[St. Augustine, Morale Treatises].
Our patience prepares us to maintain our course, regardless of obstacles, opposition or initial failures. It prevents us from quitting in the face of discouragement and adversity.
Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience … Do you know how the naturalist learns all the secrets of the forest, of plants, of birds, of beasts, of reptiles, of fishes, of the rivers and the sea? … His secret is patience. [Ralph Waldo Emerson].
It is patience that prods us to continue along tedious roads that lead to discovery and creativity. No monumental work is completed without it.
When I wrote my treatise about our Systeme I had an eye upon such Principles as might work with considering men for the beleife of a Deity & nothing can rejoyce me more than to find it usefull for that purpose But if I have done the publick any service this way ’tis due to nothing but industry & a patient thought. [Isaac Newton].
Measure of Hope
Patience reflects our trust in God and is the eternal companion of hope. Patience binds hope to our heart, and then shelters it from despair, frustration and futility.
When we cultivate patience, we harvest hope. A virtue not rooted in patience soon withers, bearing no fruit.
Patience is the root and guardian of all the virtues. We gain possession of our lives by patience, since when we learn to govern ourselves, we begin to gain possession of the very thing we are. True patience consists in bearing calmly the evils others do to us, and in not being consumed by resentment against those who inflict them. [Pope Gregory I].
When we experience pain and suffering, our patience rescues us from hopelessness. It prevents our tribulations and challenges from escalating into depression and despair.
We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. [Hebrews 6:11-12].
Patience Takes Time
Patience tames our anger with the lash of time. With it we can handle provocation, without it we fly into rage, then into regret.
Him I call a brahmana, who, without anger endures abuse, beating and being bound, and to whom the strength of patience is like the strength of an army. [Dhammapada 399]
Patience saves us from drowning in oceans of sorrow and fear. Noah, Job, Abraham, Joseph, and many other prophets and servants of God experienced severe tests of obedience. Yet, they submitted their will to that of God. They demonstrated that this world’s life is but a proof of faith, a display of hope, a test of patience.
Life is not meant to be escaped, we learn, as the liturgical year moves from season to season, from feast to feast. It is meant to be penetrated, to be plumbed to its depths, to be tasted and savored and bring us to realize that the God who created us is with us yet. Life, we come eventually to know, is an exercise in transformation, the mechanics of which take a lifetime of practice, of patience, of slow, slow growth. [Joan Chittister].
To learn is to patiently bide our time and await the results of our intellectual efforts. Sometimes, we have to customize our modern lifestyle to build in a stress-reducing module — but that takes patience.
Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city. [Proverbs 16:32 (NIV)].
The servants of God wait upon their Lord, with patience and hope. They do not despair of Divine mercy, for God is cognizant of the unseen, aware of the present, knower of the future — and is the best of planners.
CONSIDER the flight of time! Verily, man is bound to lose himself unless he be of those who attain to faith, and do good works, and enjoin upon one another the keeping to truth, and enjoin upon one another patience in adversity. [Quran 103:1-3].