The word "patience" comes from the root to hurt; hence, to suffer. The word "passion" comes from the same root, which originally also meant suffering, as in the Passion of Christ. This is also the same root as a patient who suffers passively and hopes to obtain compassion (suffering with).
Another root of the word "patience" is "almost." In the Origins of English Words by Joseph T. Shipley, we learn that "to the primitives, any damage short of death was 'almost'; hence this root was extended to mean suffer, endure, be patient."
According to Chambers Dictionary of Etymology, the word patient enters the English vocabulary around 1350 as "pacient enduring calmly; bearing pain."
The Greek word for patience, as used in the New Testament, is to "stay under; remain; have fortitude; persevere; abide; cheerful or hopeful endurance; constancy." In Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, we learn that patience involves "trials incident to service in the gospel or under chastisement, which is a trial viewed as coming from the hand of God."
The Oxford English Dictionary defines patience as "the suffering or enduring of pain, trouble or evil, with calmness and composure; quiet and self-possessed waiting for something; the quality of longsuffering without rage or discontent."
A widely cited Christian treatise of 1658, "The Whole Duty of Man," teaches that "patience is nothing else, but a willing and quiet yielding to whatever afflictions it pleases God to lay upon us" (OED).
This last thought will remind many Latter-day Saint readers of the injunction in Mosiah 3:19. In order to overcome the natural man, we must, among other things, become "as a child ... patient ... willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon (us)," for "the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith" (Mosiah 23:21).
It is not sufficient merely to endure tribulation. We are taught that we are to "submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord" (Mosiah 24:15; see D&C 123:17).
Not only should we bear afflictions cheerfully, but the Apostle Paul teaches us that "we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience" (Romans 5:3). We are to be "patient in afflictions," and "revile not against those that revile" (D&C 31:9). We should follow the injunction of James and "let patience have her perfect work, that (we) may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing" (James 1:4). If so, and we are diligent and not slothful, we "through faith and patience (will) inherit the promises" God made to Abraham (Hebrews 6:11-12).Therefore, "Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1).
Joseph A. Cannon is editor of the Deseret News.
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