The Inner Meaning of Patience

QUITE often men think of patience as a negative quality of mind, for to them it seems to be submission to slights, endurance of suffering, or resignation under sorrow; but the Christian use of the word ennobles it. The patient man has quiet fortitude which meets the trials of the present without discontent and faces the possible troubles of the future without perturbation. He has steadiness in action and continues in a right course tranquilly. He overcomes difficulties with persevering energy, but is tolerant with others and not soon discouraged in his continual efforts to help them. In human relationships patience goes beyond forbearance, which may be simply nonretaliation, and is well defined as "keeping kindliness of heart under vexatious conduct."

Patience, then, is not feebleness, but great strength, and it can be manifested in the Christian sense only when based upon faith. Genius has sometimes been spoken of as being just a great patience; that is, an ability to persevere in a particular course to the end. But one form of genius may have for its end merely self-exaltation, and the world be none the better for the conflicts and turmoils it introduces through the person of some all-highest leader or some truth-destroying philosopher; whereas the faith and patience of the saints is a perpetual leaven, inspiring mankind to higher things. Fortitude and perseverance without vision may fight for the evil side; but faith enlightens the mind as to what is good and affects the worker with both tenderness and courage in working out patiently the designs of good. In the work of the Christian Scientist patience is essential. Our Leader says in "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 7): "Great charity and humility is necessary in this work of healing. The loving patience of Jesus, we must strive to emulate."

Faith is ever the Godward look whereby the eyes are enlightened and the heart is comforted with the assurance and very substance of good. Where faith is, patience easily follows and becomes the manward aspect of fortitude, composure, and long-suffering kindness. Patience, then, is really the maintenance of faith for men; it is noncomplaining expectancy of good results; it is good will unwearied and kindness undismayed. It does not retaliate when slighted nor take revenge when injured, but commits the case to Mind. It is interesting that Peter's remembrance concerning the example of Christ Jesus is that he "when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously."

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November 8, 1919

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