But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life. (Alma 32:41)
Why is patience such an important ingredient in our lives? On the surface, it sounds a bit…boring; even passive. It’s a bit like meekness – not really your most swashbuckling virtue, at least from the sound of it. But, just like the Saviour’s injunction that we must “give up” our lives in order to “find” them, what appears to be is not what really is. Patience is a vital ingredient of a happy life.
Why? Patience is what keeps us going between the time when we begin to have faith and hope in an object ahead of us in time, and the time when we attain that object. (The “object” being a promised blessing). It allows us to endure until that fulfillment comes. Without patience, faith would become weak and dwindle, until it had no power over, for or within us. Patience fills in the bumpy gaps. It is, therefore, necessary to the sustaining of hope and faith. (On the other side of this, patience is only truly possible when we have faith and hope – because we have a reason to be patient. The strength that comes from our firm hope and/or faith enables us to have patience until our hope is fulfilled).
Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor [like Alma’s “root”] to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast [patience], always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God. (Ether 12:4, emphasis added)
And because of your diligence and your faith and your patience with the word in nourishing it, that it may take root in you, behold, by and by ye shall pluck the fruit thereof [the “better world”, or eternal life] which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yea, and pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst. (Alma 32:42, emphasis added).
This may be describing the process of sanctification; that through patience, diligence and faith in following Christ, a person ‘feasts’ more and more upon the light of Christ – his goodness and purity in our hearts – and is gradually ‘filled’ with hope, beauty and light (or joy), until eventually they are all-filled-up with it. Grace by grace, repentance by repentance, etc. Little by little, things become easier for us to bear as we become sanctified in this way. It is the process of salvation.
Bien plus, nous nous glorifions même des afflictions, sachant que l’affliction produit la persévérance, la persévérance la victoire dans l’épreuve, et cette victoire l’espérance. Or ; l’espérance ne trompe point, parce que l’amour de Dieu est répandu dans nos cœurs par le Saint-Esprit qui nous a été donné (Romans 5: 3-5).
And moreover, we glory even in afflictions, knowing that affliction produces perseverance, and perseverance victory over trials, and this victory, hope. And our hope is not in vain, for the love of God is shed [as light is shed; spread, or diffused] in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which has been given us. (My translation).
Again, I like the French translation of these verses, as they give more, and more precise, information that helps us here. Paul is explaining to us that difficulties teach us perseverance (translated “patience” in the KJV. I think “perseverance” is a more descriptive word, one that tells us what this virtue is really about; an active verb instead of a passive-sounding one). Perseverance allows us to triumph in each trial, and in future trials (because we have learnt it in our earlier experiences). That’s how we ‘win’, even when the affliction is tough and seemingly gives us no victory. Our ability to endure our affliction and/or trial gives us hope – the hope that we’ll be able to do it again and that we are stronger than the afflictions we encounter, and so may overcome them all (in Christ – see vv 1-2), and therefore hope for the long-term victory in our lives. That hope, Paul assures us, is not in vain, nor is it only briefly-lasting, because we’ve been given the blessing and gift of the Holy Ghost, who places in our hearts the love of God. That love, and the assurance of it, confirms the hope we’ve gained through our perseverance, and we are able to continue through more trials – throughout our lives – with the help of the love we feel (and feel sure of) through the continual reassurance of the Holy Ghost.
So patience, or perseverance, is what allows us to triumph over difficulties, exercise our faith and continue in hope ’til the end. It’s what gets us through the mundane, crazy and sometimes seemingly impossible situations of our days and lives. In its truest sense, patience is not a passive, boring or weak attribute; it both comes from and provides the atmosphere for courage, that more swashbuckling-sounding virtue.