Lauren and Mikaela--identical twins living on opposite coasts--blog about the story of life and their adventures in faith.


Experiments on a Fruit and its Cousin

“Saying you are patient,” a non-Christian violin teacher declared, “Implies impatience.” At first ponderance I recoiled from the thought. No—she simply didn’t know what she was talking about! Or did she? She explained that when she had a mentality of “I’m going to be patient with this student” this was actually a mentality of “I’m going to put up with this student.” My disagreement began to fade as her perspective almost started to make sense, but patience is still a characteristic we are to cultivate, is it not? In the interest of discovering the truth about this topic, I’m going to conduct a most thorough inquiry to answer these lingering questions. So, with our hypothesis down, let’s head right into the first experiment!

Experiment No. 1: Evaluation of personal attitudes
This was one of the first things I thought about after hearing the hypothesis. And I realized that I only thought about patience when I was struggling with impatience, an arrangement that is true for most things in life. Then, when I was impatient, it was “This person really tries my patience.” Or “Lord, give me patience!” It goes right along with the you-don’t-notice-your-toe-until-you-stub-it phenomenon: you don’t even think about your patience or lack thereof until your patience is challenged. This tendency could mean that we have now created a mentality for ourselves of only focusing on patience when we are already impatient. On another note, when one is discussing something that is purely for entertainment, such as a book or a movie, referencing patience clearly implies impatience (and a lousy movie!). “I sat patiently through the movie” or “I patiently read every chapter in that book” is not a good review!

Experiment No. 2: What is the difference between patience and longsuffering?
Something that I have always been curious about is the difference between these two words, mainly as they are used in Scripture. This experiment required Strong’s, so I pulled it out and looked up the Hebrew word for longsuffering. I was surprised to see that it was made up of two words, one of them meaning nose. Together, though, the words form the Hebrew idiom, “Length of face or nostrils” which denotes long-suffering. The Greek words signify a man who perseveres in bearing offenses, and is forbearing; he has the power to avenge something, but refrains from doing so. The words for patience, however, carry more of the connotations of steadfast endurance. Fascinatingly, our English word for patience comes from a Latin word meaning, “to suffer.” Patience, therefore, denotes abiding under difficult circumstances, while longsuffering refers more to a peaceful frame of mind that forbears to get angry. With this new knowledge, I believe the hypothesis would more accurately refer to longsuffering, but before we tweak it we have one final and very important experiment.

Experiment No. 3: What does the Bible say about patience?
Romans 9:22-23 says, “What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory.”
Luke 21:9 says, “By your patience possess your souls.”

Patience and longsuffering are key aspects of God's character, and they obviously do not imply that He is impatient!

Conclusion: In one sense I would no longer agree that patience implies impatience. Rather, patience implies steadfast endurance, and is exemplified by God. Long-suffering would be the more accurate word to use in context of not getting angry, for it implies that someone else is causing the suffering, and you are forbearing to react against them. That said, I believe the you-don’t-notice-your-toe-until-you-stub-it drive behind the idea that patience implies impatience is still true. I can get along fine without patience until my will is crossed, and that’s when I have trouble! (-: Why then, don’t I implement this fruit of the Spirit longsuffering and its close cousin patience now, preparing for the tests that will come? If I am prepared, then my patience won’t be a special accessory pulled out like pepper spray on a barking dog. If I let other people go ahead of me in line, and refrain from growling at a red light, I’ll be rehearsing my long-suffering. If I pray every day for people whose rejection of God seems hopeless and work every day with God to steadfastly do right in the face of trials, I will be putting patience into practice. And that’s an experiment worth trying!

Picture credit


  1. Very good post, dear! Great questions and answers. Patience and longsuffering is something that, I think, is greatly lacking in our society. Let us, as Christians, shine the light of patience in our lives and work this Fruit of the Spirit out with our family, our friends, and anyone we come in contact with.
    Would you mind if I used this article in my magazine? It wouldn't be for a couple months, though. (We're going through the Fruits of the Spirit, and next month's issue theme is 'peace', then comes 'patience'. We can talk more about it when the time draws nearer. :)


  2. Hey Lauren,
    Just what I needed...recital tomorrow, some students (yikes) are really not ready? I will have to sit down and really read this sometime. Anyhow, an email is in the making when I can breathe. Maybe Sunday if I don't drown before then... :)

  3. Raquel--I just realized that I never replied to you! So sorry about that! Of course you can use my article, if you give credit to me and the blog. Thanks so much for asking!
    Elizabeth--recitals are so hectic...I feel for you!

  4. thank u i found u. God knew my devotional would deal wth patience today and u helped me understand what God wanted me to learn. i will be following u... Bobchas post made me cry, it was beautiful.


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