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To be obedient in all things to God requires the virtue of patience. Saint Paul lists this virtue as one-of the “fruits of the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:22) Christ Himself in His humble obedience to God was exceedingly patient.
To be patient literally means to suffer and endure. It means to wait on the Lord through all tribulations and trials with courage and hope. It means to put up with ones self and others, growing gradually in the grace of God through the daily effort to keep His commandments and to accomplish His will. Only those who are patient, according to Christ, bring forth fruit from the seeds of God’s Word that are sown in their hearts.
And as for that in the good soil, they are these who, hearing the Word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bring forth fruit with patience. (Luke 8:15)
In times of persecution, when Christians are delivered up to answer for Christ, being “hated by all for my name’s sake,” the Lord counsels His followers: “in patience, possess ye your souls,” which means, “through your endurance you will gain your lives.” (Luke 21:19)
Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient- over it until it receives the early and late rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble… against one another, that you may not be condemned; behold the Judge is standing at the doors. As an example of suffering and patience… take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we call those happy who were steadfast. You have heard of the patience of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. (James 5:7-11)
Too often people embarking on the spiritual life forget that patience is a virtue, and that, because of man’s freedom, the effort to cleanse one’s life from sin is tiresome and long. Everything is expected at once, with little striving and small effort.
Too often, also, people who wish to be patient forget that the virtue is a grace of God and a fruit of the Spirit. They think that they can attain patience with themselves and with others by will power alone; by rationalizations and human considerations. Such people never find peace for their souls.
The virtue of patience is found in the steadfast endurance given by God. It is the power to “stay on the cross” no matter what, doing only the will of the Lord. Patience is united with faith, hope, love, humility and obedience, which alone brings the strength to go on. It must be renewed daily through fasting, prayer and communion with God in the Church. It is found when one trains oneself to remember God, to abide in Christ and to see all things in the light of the Kingdom of God. If one wishes to be patient, one must be united with Christ and live by the power of the Spirit. According to the spiritual teachers, there is no other way.
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (I Corinthians 10:13)
Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never permit the righteous to be moved. (Psalm 55.22; cf. I Peter 5:7)