The noun patient as in “the doctor’s patient,” and the adjective patient as in “she is a patient woman” are related words. They both come ultimately from the Latin verb pati which means to suffer. The noun indicates a person that suffers from illness or affliction, the adjective refers to a person that suffers without complaint. Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary describes the adjective patience as suffering “with a calm, unruffled temper; endurance without murmuring or fretfulness.”
In the Church we often talk about coming to earth to be tried and tested. If you are like me, when I hear about trial and testing I usually think about my faith being tested. But in Mosiah 23:21 we learn that the Lord also tries our patience, and throughout scripture the prophets urge us to be patient people. For example, in his great speech to the people of Gideon, Alma instructed them to be “full of patience” (Alma 7:23).
When I first started pondering this the thought crossed my mind that faith is a lot easier than patience, but then I realized that you cannot separate the two. Faith is a personal response of trust, loyalty and obedience to Jesus Christ, and patience is an integral ingredient of trust, loyalty and obedience. In mortality the unexpected constantly thwarts our best intentions. The unknown haunts us. Mistakes happen. Our very best efforts fall far short of what is needed. But faith is knowing that Jesus Christ will make it all right, and patience is not complaining while we wait for Him to do so.
Patience doesn’t come naturally to me. I think one of the reasons it doesn’t is because patience is an element of time, and my spirit isn’t accustomed to this mortal element called time. By the same token, that’s probably one of the main reasons I was sent here to experience time–so I could learn patience. In the past, I’ve thought patience meant biting my tongue to keep from complaining. Now I realize that patience is trusting in Jesus Christ enough that I don’t think the negative thoughts. Which takes me back to faith–a response of trust, loyalty and obedience. You just can’t separate the two!