Because of the weakness and imperfections of human nature, and the great frailties of man; for such is the weakness of man, an such his frailties, that he is liable to sin continually, and if God were not long suffering, and full of compassion, gracious and merciful and of a forgiving disposition, man would be cut off from before him in consequence of which he would be in continual doubt and could not exercise faith: for where doubt is, there faith has no power, but by man’s believing that God is full of compassion and forgiveness, long suffering and slow to anger, he can exercise faith in him and overcome doubt, so as to be exceedingly strong. (Lecture 3, Question 18)
One of the six characteristics of God mentioned in Lecture 3 of Lectures on Faith is mercy. In describing mercy, we see terms like long suffering, compassion, graciousness, forgiving and slow to anger. I think much of mercy can be expressed in the word patience. Noah Webster defined patience as:
PATIENCE, noun pa’shens. [Latin patientia, from patior, to suffer.]
1. The suffering of afflictions, pain, toil, calamity, provocation or other evil, with a calm, unruffled temper; endurance without murmuring or fretfulness. patience may spring from constitutional fortitude, from a kind of heroic pride, or from christian submission to the divine will.
2. A calm temper which bears evils without murmuring or discontent.
3. The act or quality of waiting long for justice or expected good without discontent.
4. Perseverance; constancy in labor or exertion.
5. The quality of bearing offenses and injuries without anger or revenge.
As a disposition of God, it is clear that this is something that we must develop on our own. It seems that patience is impossible to develop without situations that require it. Patience is, in fact, a response to afflictions, pain, toil, calamity, provocation or evil. Patience must be developed, and it seems that it cannot exist without there being situations that require it.
In other words, you are not going to sit and tolerate something difficult unless you are forced to or you choose to for some reason. That which we are not willing to tolerate, we avoid, but some things are unavoidable. If you want to have kids, you’re going to have to endure crying, disobedience, accidents, rebellion, angst, and a broad variety of difficult circumstances. It’s almost like God created families to help us develop patience…
And what about Church? Yeah, I think quite a bit of patience is required there. Now, I know that Denver Snuffer is a controversial person for a variety of reasons, but long before the controversy I found something great in one of his books. Some of you might not like me quoting Snuffer, but I agree with Brigham here, “‘Mormonism,’ so-called, embraces every principle pertaining to life and salvation, for time and eternity. No matter who has it. If the infidel has got truth it belongs to ‘Mormonism.’” (DBY, 3) So that said, here’s the quote:
“The process of developing the attributes Christ asked of us in the Sermon on the Mount begins in Church service. These fellow Saints are given to you to help you grow and develop patience, love and charity. Some of our fellow Saints are lovely and loving. They are easy to show a Christ-like love to because the return your kindness, either in like measure or in greater measure. We all know Saints like that. But they don’t stretch us into improvement.
It is that unlikable bishop, or the unworthy and uninspired high councilman, or the abrasive and unlikable semi-heretic, complaining every Gospel Doctrine class about some pet project or issue who provides us the greatest opportunities to begin to develop charity. These people are there as gifts from God to help us become more like Him. Having unlikable Saints about us is exactly as it should be. Having leaders who fail in their callings is also just as it should be. These things are a gift to you, to provide you a chance to return love and charity to those who need it, and probably will never recognize the gifts you are developing through their shortcomings.” (The Second Comforter, 193)
I just love those words and often consider them when I am at church. Patience is actually a beautiful thing to express when you are able to. I think it is safe to say that patience is probably one of the key things we are here on earth to develop.
David Littlefield, author of Mormon Mysticism wrote:
“The insincere wish to consume gospel principles upon their lust. They demand immediate, and precise answers that require no thought or meditation. They are impatient and demanding, constantly attempting to bend eternity to their narrow views. The sincere seeker of eternal truth accepts all the truth that eternity is willing to give at this moment, and prepares himself for further insight.”
I collected several scriptures about patience and placed them here below. I’ve enjoyed reading and pondering them, aren’t the scriptures wonderful? I bolded some of my favorites.
“Ye are not able to abide the presence of God now, neither the ministering of angels; wherefore, continue in patience until ye are perfected.” (Doctrine and Covenants 67:13)
“But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,” (2 Corinthians 6:4)
“That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. “(Hebrews 6:12)
“Nevertheless the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith.” (Mosiah 23:21)
“And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;” (Romans 5:3)
“Admonish him in his faults, and also receive admonition of him. Be patient; be sober; be temperate; have patience, faith, hope and charity.” (Doctrine and Covenants 6:19)
“In your patience possess ye your souls.” (Luke 21:19)
“And seek the face of the Lord always, that in patience ye may possess your souls, and ye shall have eternal life.” (Doctrine and Covenants 101:38)
“Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” (James 1:3)
“But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (James 1:4)
“For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.(Hebrews 10:36)
“Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” (Revelation 14:12)
“But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” (Romans 8:25)
“But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life.” (Alma 32:41)
“Then, my brethren, ye shall reap the rewards of your faith, and your diligence, and patience, and long-suffering, waiting for the tree to bring forth fruit unto you.” (Alma 32:43)
“Now this was a great trial to those that did stand fast in the faith; nevertheless, they were steadfast and immovable in keeping the commandments of God, and they bore with patience the persecution which was heaped upon them.” Alma 1:25)
“And it came to pass that so great was their faith and their patience that the voice of the Lord came unto them again, saying: Be of good comfort, for on the morrow I will deliver you out of bondage.” Mosiah 24:16)
“And now I would that ye should be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive.” (Alma 7:23)