Babies are born with a full visual capacity to see objects and colors. However, newborns cannot see very far — only objects that are 8-15 inches away.
Compared to our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ, we are all spiritual infants. Like infants, our eyes can often only see what is right in front of us, blind to eternal perspective. Fortunately, just as an infant’s eyes mature we too can develop our spiritual eyes.
D&C 58:4 -3 expounds on how, in the midst of our struggles big and small, we can be so blind to God’s greater plans to bless us.
“3 Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation.
4 For after much tribulation come the blessings. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand.”
From this scripture we learn that our natural eyes, or in our natural state we cannot see God’s plans. We also learn that glory and blessings come following tribulation. But how does one get from experiencing tribulation to receiving blessings? Elder Neal A. Maxwell expounded on the connecting factor.
“One of the functions of the tribulation of the righteous is that “tribulation worketh patience” ( Rom. 5:3 ). What a vital attribute patience is, if tribulation is worth enduring to bring about its development!
Patience, in turn, allows us to have the needed experience, as noted in the stunning insight the Lord gave to the Prophet Joseph Smith: “All these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good” ( D&C 122:7 ).” Patience
To put it another way, being patient in difficult circumstances, even and especially in the our greatest trials, allows us to grow from experience. Patience is the key factor.
But what is patience? Maybe it’s easier to begin by illustrating impatience.
When I was about 8-years-old, my best friend and I were at a Golf ‘n Stuff arcade. We were playing ski ball which was fun, but we weren’t very good at it, so winning highly coveted prize tickets was slow going. That’s when my friend had a brilliant idea, or at least it seemed so at the time. She said if she climbed up to the top of the ski ball cage, she could put all the balls directly into the 500 slots and win prize tickets much more quickly. I wish I could say I realized that this was cheating and protested, but it never occurred to me that gaming the system was dishonest. So, a few minutes later, as I passed the balls up to my friend and tickets poured out of the machine, ll I could think about was how many prizes I’d be able to get that day, That was until I felt someone tap my shoulder. I turned around, and to my horror one of the arcade employees stood there frowning down at me. We both received a word or two about cheating. What’s worse was that all of our tickets were taken away, not just the ones we had won through little scheme. But what was worst of all was that I could hardly sleep for a week I felt so horrible about what I had done. In my impatience, I not only lost my chance to win junk from an arcade, but I had lost peace of mind and self-respect.
How often do we impatiently sacrifice promised blessings, or even blessings we’ve already received, by taking perceived shortcuts? How often do we trust in only our own timing instead of Heavenly Father’s?
Apostle Joseph B Wirthlin stated:
“A word about patience with our Heavenly Father and his plan of eternal progression. How incredibly foolish to be impatient with him, the Father of our spirits, who knows everything and whose work and glory, through his Son, Jesus Christ, is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” ( Moses 1:39 ). Patience, a Key to Happiness, April 1987 General Conference
“Patience is not indifference. Actually, it is caring very much, but being willing, nevertheless, to submit both to the Lord and to what the scriptures call the “process of time. […] Patience is tied very closely to faith in our Heavenly Father. Actually, when we are unduly impatient, we are suggesting that we know what is best—better than does God. Or, at least, we are asserting that our timetable is better than his. Either way we are questioning the reality of God’s omniscience,”
If impatience is a lack of faith in Heavenly Father’s divinity, then patience is an act of faith in Heavenly Father and His timing. Maxwell goes on to say:
“Patience is a willingness, in a sense, to watch the unfolding purposes of God with a sense of wonder and awe, rather than pacing up and down within the cell of our circumstance ” Patience
When we trust in our own timing we are captive to our circumstances. We often let ourselves feel that life is unfair, like we are trapped, find ourselves frequently asking, ”why me?”, and wonder when it will be our turn to get life’s metaphorical prize tickets. We forget that our Father in Heaven has a great perspective and a greater plan for us than we could ever dream up for ourselves.
“8 ¶For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9 -8
We forget that the real prize comes in the form of personal development.
As Presiden Dieter F Uchtdorf put it:
“Patience is a process of perfection. The Savior Himself said that in your patience you possess your souls. Or, to use another translation of the Greek text, in your patience you win mastery of your souls. Patience means to abide in faith, knowing that sometimes it is in the waiting rather than in the receiving that we grow the most. This was true in the time of the Savior. It is true in our time as well, for we are commanded in these latter days to “continue in patience until ye are perfected.” Continue in Patience F. Uchtdorf, April 2010 General Conference
Fortunately we have a perfect example of patience as our model, in our Savior Jesus Christ. Hillary Olsen wrote:
“The Savior is our ultimate example of patience. To me, His words spoken in the Garden of Gethsemane embody His patience. In the midst of unimaginable suffering and sacrifice, He asked that, if possible, the cup of His suffering be taken from Him. “Nevertheless,” He said, “not as I will, but as thou wilt” ( Matthew 26:39 ). The word nevertheless carries a powerful message. In spite of what the Savior really wanted in that moment, He expressed His willingness to accept His Father’s will and to endure.
We’ll all be required to wait for things in our lives—even at times the most righteous desires of our hearts. But Jesus Christ, our “best, [our] heav’nly Friend,” 4 can comfort and reassure us of good things to come. And He is lovingly patient with us as we learn to be like Him, as we learn to face the expected and unexpected plot twists of mortality and say to our Father, “Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”” Patience: More Than Waiting
Nothing has taught me patience and its powerful ability to bless my life like having multiple chronic illnesses. I’ve learned to patiently endure as I’ve laid in the hospital for months at a time unable to move a muscle or even breathe on my own. I’ve learned to be patient as I’ve been taught that healing doesn’t always come in a miraculous instant. I’ve learned to be patient with friends and family who haven’t always understood what I go through. I’ve learned to be patient with myself and to treat myself more kindly. Most importantly, I’ve learned to be more patient with my Heavenly Father’s timing in all things. In developing that patience, though my illness hasn’t gone away, I’ve been greatly blessed. I’ve been able to do missionary work from my hospital bed even once giving a Book of Mormon to my respiratory therapist. I discovered my love of crafting, painting, and writing novels. Most of all, I’ve come to a knowledge of the Gospel and of my Savior Jesus Christ. I’ve been able to go His Temple, the House of the Lord, and walk its halls.
President Uchtdorf explained:
Brigham Young taught that when something came up which he could not comprehend fully, he would pray to the Lord, “Give me patience to wait until I can understand it for myself.” 5 And then Brigham would continue to pray until he could comprehend it.
We must learn that in the Lord’s plan, our understanding comes “line upon line, precept upon precept.” 6 In short, knowledge and understanding come at the price of patience.
Often the deep valleys of our present will be understood only by looking back on them from the mountains of our future experience. Often we can’t see the Lord’s hand in our lives until long after trials have passed. Often the most difficult times of our lives are essential building blocks that form the foundation of our character and pave the way to future opportunity, understanding, and happiness.”Continue in Patience F. Uchtdorf, April 2010 General Conference
In closing, I’d like to leave you with my testimony on patience. Through patiently enduring all things even and especially what seem like the worst things, we have the opportunity to be refined and perfected, even blessed beyond what ever thought possible. As we trust in the Lord’s perfect timing, we begin to see our lives more as He sees them, and it becomes more evident to us just how rich and numerous those blessings are in our lives. I think I can best sum it up in the form of a poem I wrote:
By Lauren Soffer
Patience is a game
For only one to play
With two it’s not the same
To watch the clocks wind down the day
Just waiting isn’t patience
With the tapping of the feet
While the words have the same fragrance
Patience without calm is incomplete
To wait with patience is to trust
And to not anticipate
That comprehension is now modest
That God is never late
So have a patient heart
With a serenity of mind
To wait is just a part
To wait with patience is divine!
This was a talk I gave in church a few weeks ago during Sacrament Meeting of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.