The Apostle Paul’s counsel to the Hebrews has great application for us today. He urged them, “Let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:1–2).
How valuable is the virtue of patience! King Benjamin listed patience as one of the important attributes of a Saint (see Mosiah 3:19), and the Prophet Joseph Smith learned that patience has a refining role in preparing us for “a more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (D&C 63:66). On the other hand, a lack of patience presents at least one fundamental problem: It keeps us from learning some necessary lessons in life, especially those that come to us as we struggle with adversity.
Too often, the demands of life tempt us to be impatient. We want to do everything right, and we want to do everything. We may rush to accomplish our daily chores, run to take care of family responsibilities, even hurry to offer service. One woman admitted, “Some nights, I even line up my children for efficient good-night kisses.”
But life is too valuable an experience to rush. Elder Neal A. Maxwell, of the Presidency of the Seventy at the time, observed that “without patience, we will learn less in life. We will see less. We will feel less. We will hear less. Ironically, rush and more usually mean less” (“Patience,” Ensign, Oct. 1980, 29).
Perhaps even more serious, impatience—particularly impatience with adversity—may lead to debilitating spiritual weakness. The trials we endure give us experience and, depending on how we respond to them, can be for our ultimate good (see D&C 122:7). Without patience in facing tribulation, however, we may fail to endure to the end.
Of course, all of us would like life to be less stressful. But sometimes we don’t know how to make it so. What is needed is eternal perspective and faith in the Lord. Elder Maxwell points out that “patience is a willingness, in a sense, to watch the unfolding purposes of God with a sense of wonder and awe—rather than pacing up and down within the cell of our circumstance” (Ensign, Oct. 1980, 28–29).
Certainly Sister Sylvia Rosen has learned the power of faithful patience. Sylvia is a young single mother from Utah with four children, one of whom is affected by a severe developmental disorder resembling autism. At a time of already great challenge in her life, she was diagnosed with advanced cancer. With renewed faith in our Heavenly Father, she let go of some activities and devoted herself to her top priorities: taking care of her family and pursuing medical treatment for her condition.
Today she continues to struggle with life’s challenges, but all her activities are mediated by a beautiful spirit of waiting on the Lord. As her health permits, she makes gifts for friends and delivers meals to neighbors in need of comfort. The more she gives to others, the more beautiful becomes her countenance of peace. “I need all my faith and patience,” she says. “I am fighting for my life.”
Sister Rosen has learned the truth of Isaiah’s promise: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles” (Isa. 40:31).
How can we accomplish all that the Lord expects of us while exercising faith and patience?
How is our faith strengthened by learning patience?