“The word compassion comes from (com-passion = compassion, to suffer, to suffer with, to suffer with other persons); that’s where the word patience comes from (patience = patior, “to suffer”). To be patient is to experience the pain of your life. And when you experience it with somebody else, you can be compassionate.”
From Henri Nouwen’s Spiritual Formation
In the Bible, patience is sometimes translated as long-suffering, defined as the temper which does not easily succumb under suffering or when provoked.
Patience is a quality of God and a fruit of the Spirit. In the Old Testament, we come to know a God who is very patient—slow to anger (and rightful judgment) because of the compassion and love He has for the people of Israel. Jesus embodied these qualities, as He was willing to suffer with and for all the world—to the point of death on a cross.
As I was recently reflecting on these things, I was struck by the relationship between patience and compassion—they work together and are intertwined. Patience isn’t simply refraining from yelling or waiting with contentment—it is others-focused, relational, an act of compassion. It is a coming alongside.
As mamas our patience can be tested often. We don’t want to endure—let alone embrace suffering! Our natural inclination is toward self-preservation, but the way of Christ is to die to self.
Still, isn’t it our children’s impatience that at times pushes us to the brink?