By patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life. Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation. They bring forth fruit with patience.
Patience is of two kinds. There is an active and there is a passive endurance. The former is a masculine, the latter for the most part a feminine grace. Female patience is exhibited chiefly in fortitude; in bearing pain and sorrow meekly without complaining. For the type of man’s endurance you may look to the early Christians under persecution. This is the patience for us to cultivate,—to bear and to persevere. However dark and profitless, however painful and weary existence may have become; however any man, like Elijah, may be tempted to cast himself beneath the juniper-tree and say: “It is enough: now, O Lord!”—life is not done, and our Christian character is not won, so long as God has anything left for us to suffer, or anything left for us to do.
Patience, however, has another meaning. It is the opposite of that impatience which cannot wait. This is one of the difficulties of spiritual life. We are disappointed if the harvest do not come at once. It is the work of a long life to become a Christian. Many, oh! many a time, are we tempted to say: “I make no progress at all. It is only failure after failure. Nothing grows.” Now, look at the sea when the flood is coming in. Go and stand by the sea-beach, and you will think that the ceaseless flux and reflux is but retrogression equal to the advance. But look again in an hour’s time, and the whole ocean has advanced. Every advance has been beyond the last, and every retrograde movement has been an imperceptible trifle less than the last. This is progress, to be estimated at the end of hours, not minutes. And this is Christian progress. Many a fluctuation, many a backward motion, with a rush at times so vehement that all seems lost,—but if the Eternal work be real, every failure has been a real gain, and the next does not carry us so far back as we were before. Every advance is a real gain, and part of it is never lost. Both when we advance and when we fail, we gain. We are nearer to God than we were. The flood of Spirit-life has carried us up higher on the everlasting shores, where the waves of life beat no more, and its fluctuations end, and all is safe at last. “This is the faith and patience of the saints.” Since thy Father’s arm sustains thee, Peaceful be; When a chastening hand restrains thee, It is He. Know His love in full completeness Fills the measure of thy weakness. If He wound thy spirit sore, Trust Him more.
O GOD, who by the passion and death of Thine only-begotten Son didst crush the pride of our enemy the devil; grant to Thy faithful servants, when they are in trouble, to bear in mind His sufferings, and cheerfully to endure all adversities; through the same Lord Jesus Christ who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost one God, world without end. Amen.