Patience is a Virtue, Advent II ~ Rev. Archdeacon Sr. Dollie Wilkinson, OPI


Patience-the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.

After a recent conversation with my granddaughter, where she declared, “I get Christmas first!”, because of course being only three, she could not imagine being patient in waiting for Christmas. To the very young, the actual word “patience”, has very little meaning. But in 2 Peter 3:8-15a, we are cautioned to do just that.

But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed. Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire? But, in accordance with His promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home. Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by Him at peace, without spot or blemish; and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation. So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him.”

Here we are cautioned to be patient, in waiting on the Lord’s mercy and favor. Just as the Lord is patient with us, so too should we be patient in waiting on His promises. How often have we prayed, expecting a quick answer to what seems to us an imminent dilemma? But as Peter states, “ with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day”. Meaning, what to us may seem like a dire concern, to the Lord, it is crucial only if it aides in bringing His children to salvation.

So many times I have heard the trite saying, “Patience is a virtue”. But what does this mean, and where does this saying come from?

The first known publishing of the quote “Patiences is a virtue” comes from the poem “Piers Plowman” written between the years 1360 and 1387. Typical of texts from the 14th century, authorship can be debated though literary historians normally attribute most of the text to William Langland. However, there are multiple versions of this poem written at different times with sections believed to be authored by different, unknown people. Piers Plowman” is a poem about a man, the poet and first narrator, in search of Catholicism and faith according to medieval standards. He does this by having dream visions after falling asleep. The poem is allegorical, meaning the characters are symbolic and also satirical. However, the allegory isn’t vague or abstract. The various characters include Truth (God), Wrong (Devil), Holy Church, Thought, Wit, Study, Conscience, Liar, Reason, Dowel (do well), Dobet (do better) and Dobest (do best) and others, including the seven deadly sins. Later, the characters are lead on a quest by Piers Plowman who also becomes the narrator. The Plowman is chosen as the guide due to his seemingly innocent and truthful nature.”

So in the allegorical poem by William Langland, we learn patience is a critical virtue,
highly prized by our Lord, “ regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.” And thus the key to our salvation. But in our fast paced, hurry up world, how can we practice patience? Are we just like the child, eager for Christmas day, the frenzied opening of presents? Or can we do as our Father commands us, practicing patience, knowing the ultimate gift isn’t found under an evergreen tree. But in the patient, loving presence of our heavenly Father. And is this not the bestest gift of all?!!!