“A man who is a master of patience is master of everything else.” -George Savile
Patience is the ability to preserve and endure in the face of delay, provocation, and difficult circumstances. It is the level of endurance one can take before becoming negative or acting in annoyance or anger. Those who are patient are also steadfast and forbearing, especially when faced with long-term difficulties.
Patience in Christianity
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” -Romans 12:12
Christian patience is part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit; one of the visible attributes of a true Christian life. In Galatians, the apostle Paul speaks of the fruit that will come when a person accepts the gift of salvation, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Gal 5:22,23)
When a person has truly accepted Christ and the salvation he offers, the fruit of that union will show through the attributes Paul wrote about. Therefore, by practicing patience, we are producing the fruit of the Holy Spirit and showing that the love and grace of God are within us.
Patience is mentioned in many places in the Bible. The book of Proverbs says, “through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone” (Pr. 25:15); Ecclesiastes says that “better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.” (Eccles. 7:8) These verses emphasize the power of patience in the long term. When we are patience we are diligent, we are lasting.
Christians are called to be patient in order to exemplify the patience of God. Paul writes in his letter to Timothy,
“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:15-17).
Paul was a sinner before he came to know Christ, and was still a sinner even after. Despite this, Christ did not give up on him; Christ was patient and through the Holy Spirit drew Paul closer to himself. So it must be with the disciples of Christ. Even though we are sinners and we constantly stumble, Christ is patient with us. If Christ was patient with Paul, who called himself the worst of sinners, won’t He also be patient with us? Through this testimony we are shown Christ’s “immense patience.”
Patience in Islam
“Oh you who believe! Seek help with patient perseverance and prayer, for God is with those who patiently persevere.” – The Qu’ran 2:153
Patience with steadfast belief in Allah is known as Sabr, and many Muslims consider it one of the most important virtues. Through Sabr, a Muslim individual can grow closer to God and attain true peace. Allah is with those who are patient, especially during times of anguish and uncertainty.
There are many instances in the Qu’ran that encourage Muslims to seek comfort in Allah. Sometimes Allah will allow disaster to strike in order to test the patience and resolve of his children, “Be sure that we shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits of your toil, but [we shall] give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere; who say, when afflicted with calamity: ‘To Allah we belong, and to Him is our return.’” (Qu’ran 2:155-156)
Job is an example of patience. Job is known as Ayyūb in Arabic. The Islamic version of Job differs slightly than Christian version and puts more emphasis on Ayyub’s steadfast belief in God. Ayyub was a very wealthy person who owned much land and livestock. He was also blessed with a large family with many children. Central to all this was his faith in God, which was unlike any other during his time. And so, Allah decided to test his faith. Ayyub was afflicted with disease, he lost all his wealth, his servants were slain, and his family was crushed under his roof. He lost everything except his faith in God. He was steadfast despite the loss, so Allah relieved him of his sufferings, doubled his wealth, and provided him with an even larger family.
When faced with troubles it’s easy to feel helpless and sad. This is especially true when we hear of the tragedies and abominable acts that occur in the world every day. During these times we must remember Ayyub, or Job. Like Ayyub, Muslims are called put their trust and faith in God, even when falling into despair. This is what Allah commands: to trust in Him, perform good deeds, and stand as heralds for truth.
Patience in Hinduism
“Little by little, through patience and repeated effort, the mind will become stilled in the Self.” -The Bhagavad Gita
Patience and forbearance are considered essential virtues in Hinduism. In ancient Hindu literature, patience has many synonyms including pariksaha (patience), sahisnuta (toleration), titiksha (forbearance), and sahanshilata (suffering with patience).
Hindu philosophy holds that true pariksaha is a sanguine endurance of opposition and the consequences of one’s own actions (known as karma). More specifically, it is the ability to wait and endure opposites – pain and pleasure, hot and cold, sorrow and joy – in a calm manner and without a desire to retaliate or seek revenge (sahisnuta).
Virtuous titiksha means that if someone insults or attacks us without cause, we must withstand it without feeling resentment, anger, enmity, or anxiety. This may be one of the more difficult aspects of pariksaha to practice because when attacked it’s hard not to take it personally. In this way, titiksha closely resembles the Christian concept of turning the other cheek, which Jesus preached during in his famous Sermon on the Mount.
One of the Vedic texts (ancient literature that contain the earliest emergence of the religious concepts of Hinduism), the Sandilya Upanishad, identifies ten sources of patience. The common belief behind these ten sources is that if one uses them as a guide, one will be able to further develop their spirit. The ten sources are:
- Ahimsa: not being violent to any living creature through actions, words, or in thought.
- Satya: speaking and acting with truth.
- Asteya: not coveting the belongings of another through actions, words, or in thought.
- Brahmacharya: being celibate in action, speech, and thought.
- Daya: being unconditionally kind to all creatures.
- Arjava: refusing to lie to or wrong others either directly or indirectly.
- Kshama: accepting suffering and forgiving all things pleasant and unpleasant.
- Dhriti: the will to stay calm in mind, body, and spirit during periods of prosperity and loss.
- Mitahara: moderation in consumption of food, drink, and pleasure.
- Saucha: cleansing the body, spirit, and mind of all things unclean or impure.
These sources closely resemble the Ten Commandments but they are all centered around patience. It is no surprise, then, that patience is considered an essential virtue in Hinduism.
How to be Patient
Have patience be your goal for the entire day. Take a day and make a serious effort to take your time and think about everything you do. Live in the moment and be mindful of yourself and your surroundings. Think of your day as a movie where you can hit “pause” at any time. Take regular pauses and at the end of the day think over all the decisions you made and try to understand exactly what took place. Eventually, learn to do this on a daily basis.
Slow down. Sometimes we must rush, but we think we need to rush more than we actually do. If you are hitting pause a few times each day, you will likely notice when you are rushing for no reason. When this happens, just stop for a minute and take a few deep breaths. Turn you mind to peaceful things and center yourself, then return to your task with a slower, more deliberate pace.
Delay gratification. By putting off reward and rest, we are training our patience “muscles.” The longer we put off gratification, the more we will be able to enjoy it when the right time comes. We should live each day for the evening and each week for the end. If we work hard and accomplish all the day’s tasks, the evening can be our own. Sometimes this is difficult, but we must be steadfast and deliberate. This takes practice, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes.
Think before you speak. This quite literally means that you pause and consider what you’re going to say before you say it. If we blurt out the first thought that comes to mind without considering the consequences, we will often find ourselves saying stupid or offensive things. Practice this for one whole day and think about instances where it was good or right for you to consider your words before speaking. Often we will realize that the extra time allowed us to formulate better, more articulate responses.