Fruits of the Spirit: Patience (2)

15 Jun

From a simple net search for quotations, I found a number of insightful statements about patience. I would like to consider a few of these, in terms of how they relate to the patience the Spirit gives.

First, from Franz Kafka (1883 – 1924):

There art two cardinal sins from which all others spring: Impatience and Laziness.

Here is the suggestion that impatience is a sin, and presumably therefore that patience is not only a virtue but is also a protective from sin. If we are able to be patient with our circumstances, we may not fall into sin. But what sin? What sins arise from impatience, I wonder. As I suggested in another post, maybe there are some things about which we ought to be impatient. Here I find the need for more insight, maybe more detail.

This statement from  Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519) perhaps offers some further insight along these lines:

Patience serves as a protection against wrongs as clothes do against cold. For if you put on more clothes as the cold increases, it will have no power to hurt you. So in like manner you must grow in patience when you meet with great wrongs, and they will then be powerless to vex your mind.

The idea seems to be that patience helps us not to become ‘vexed’. Maybe this means, for example, that in the face of difficulties, we will not become resentful, bitter, maybe jealous of others (when we experience privations) or just plain angry at the world. Patience may help us to avoid such wrongs. But to endure, in a positive and hopeful way, we need the insight to know when it is right to be angry about injustices, and so on.
    Very helpfully,  (Saint Augustine— 354 AD – 430 AD) wrote:  Patience is the companion of wisdom.
     Yes, wisdom can help us to be patient, I believe. When we have the wisdom to see beyond the present situation, we can endure with patience. This seems very much the biblical perspective, calling on people to see a larger picture, the hope that God gives. So maybe here we have a key element in the Spirit’s ‘fruit’ of patience. Maybe the Spirit enables patience by enabling us to see, or to understand, that there is a bigger picture, a wider perspective, and on that basis we are able to see the present limitations in a different light.

     Helen Keller (1880 – 1968) has suggested that if we are able  to see present sufferings in this way, we may even be grateful for them.

We could never learn to be brave and patient, if there were only joy in the world.

That is, difficulties and limitations, or anything other than ‘joy’,
can be seen as the opportunity to grow, in courage and patience. It is interesting that Keller links bravery and courage. Victor Hugo (1802 – 1885) did also:

Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.

I like this: it comes directly to the idea that we can face life with good heart (that’s what courage means), calmly dealing with our sorrows and struggles, large and small, and then we can in good conscience go to sleep. This is the Spirit’s gift: to be able to rest, in the face of our worries, knowing that ‘God is awake’. This is beautiful, this recognition that we are not alone in our troubles. Our struggles are not solitary. The Spirit of God gives us courage and patience, and allows us also to rest.  This is a precious ‘fruit’.

Unfortunately, I cannot gives the books or documents from which these quotes come, though no doubt a bit more searching will find some of them.

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