In Patience Possess Ye Your Souls

In your patience possess ye your souls.

Luke 21:19

Fishing is anathema to me. I’ve never understood people with the patience to cast a line into the water, then sit back and wait for something to happen. Maybe the beer helps. I wouldn’t know. But the appeal of the sport is completely lost on me. I’m just not a patient man.

I’ve worked on it. I’ve learned to meditate, which has even less excitement than fishing, but at least you are indoors. I’ve tried to be slower to respond to offenses and quieter when I do respond. I’ve even enjoyed a littler success along the way. I was shocked recently when a colleague said that he couldn’t imagine me losing my temper. Truth be told, we hadn’t spent that much time together.

But what is it about patience that the Lord would say that through patience we would possess (Greek: preserve or have mastery over) our souls?

It helps, I think, to consider what happens when we aren’t patient. Impatience travels with several unseemly cohorts. Anger is the most notable, but there are others. Impatience breeds rashness, doubt, distrust, and anxiety. When we lose our patience, we find that we have hamstrung out ability to make prudent decisions, and we tend to act at our worst instead of our best.

It may be that Satan’s second most pervasive characteristic, after pride, was impatience. He did not want to wait and see what would happen as people stumbled their way through mortality, nor was he willing to have the patience for Christ to work out the Atonement. He wanted guaranteed results, locked in immediately, even if it meant putting or agency in chains.

By contrast, we are told to wait on the Lord, to be patient enough to see His plans for us unfold. We are counseled to be patient in afflictions and to trust that they will eventually exalt us. We are told to be still.

When we are patient, we are demonstrating our faith in God. We are placing our trust in Him. We are showing our love to Him by conceding to His schedule. Even when it appears that the bridegroom is late, we don’t begrudge His tardiness, but celebrate His arrival.

Too often we pray to have patience, but we want it right now!

Robert D. Hales
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