life lines ” Patience is a virtue”
By Ian Robinson, Major
Have you noticed that the way we watch television has radically changed?
We no longer sit down before the “box” at a set time to watch our favorite program. Now, with DVR, On Demand, Hulu Plus and other amazing gadgets we can watch what we want when we want and even fast forward through the commercials. At least with DVR you can. But On Demand TV posts a warning before the program begins that you cannot fast forward through their commercials for other programs produced by the same company. My wife laughs at me because I always reach for the remote and hit fast forward every time only to be stonewalled by a little circle with a diagonal line that says I was not paying attention at the beginning. Isobel says it is a sign of my impatience.
I’m sure you have all heard the anonymous little ditty that goes, “Patience is a virtue, possess it while you can, seldom found in woman, never found in man.” It’s anonymous because it was probably written by a woman, and certainly never quoted by a man.
However, I must admit that Isobel is correct. I am not always the most patient of men. Curiously, my impatience only surfaces in certain situations. I can wait long hours in medical waiting rooms reading three-year-old magazines. I can sit quietly in the movies, enduring horrendously loud and interminable previews of coming attractions. I have even managed to curb my impatience in the grocery store when I inevitably stand in the wrong line. I now realize that it only becomes the slowest line because I join it. But when I am trying to watch my favorite program without commercial interruptions I get a little impatient. And when I get behind the wheel of my car… .
The dictionary defines patience as, “the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint.” Very apt considering the word was first used in A.D. 1200, long before the discovery of anaesthesia. People seeking medical treatment were “patients” because they were expected to endure great pain—and not because the chairs in the waiting room were so uncomfortable!
The Bible has several words in Greek and Hebrew that are translated as “patience.” One of them is “makrothumia,” meaning longsuffering or forbearance. This concept of suffering long became very clear to us during Isobel’s depression. We learned the true meaning of enduring pain and suffering over the long term—18 months in our case. Many days Isobel was so frustrated with her depression that she cried out in agony, and I could only stand by watching and praying. No wonder St. John Chrysostom defined patience as, “the spirit that could take revenge if it liked, but utterly refuses to do so.”
Paul also understood patience in all its fullness. That’s why he listed it as the first product of love in 1 Cor. 13:4. It is also an important element of the fruit of the Spirit in Gal. 5:22. Patience is enduring the onslaught of life and all its hardships without ever losing control. Patience is being the one who remains calm and collected in the face of the wildest storm you can imagine. Patience is an attribute of God that he wants to see reflected in all of us. Do you have it?
Now, where’s that remote?