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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Should Patience be Limited or Limitless?

Written by: Muoka Chibuzor

Seated among colleagues who were learned in various fields of life, every one of them was speaking based on accumulated life experiences, and knowledge. Various relevant Issues were raised, and they were discussed in their order of importance. Suddenly, a crucial question popped-in unexpectedly, “Does patience have limits?” What actually led to the question was the incessant retardation in Nigeria’s national development, and the gross perpetration of corrupt practices by leaders who were elected to serve, and not for the populace to serve or slave for them.

For how long do we wait or condone their excessiveness, should the masses break the laws and take it into their hands? For how long will the youths be called the leaders of tomorrow? When the oldies of yesterdays, have refused to hand over tomorrow to them, and are still clamouring to become the future leaders. Probably, the future is not today nor tomorrow, but is an imagination, occupying a space, in the mind of man.

Patience has been and will continue to be an indispensable virtue. Patience practically means being able or having the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble or suffering without getting angry or upset.  A token of it should be imbibed by every living soul. The presence or absence of patience in the life of a man must be in-check, at every point in time, because this admirable virtue is currently going into extinction, as the state of affairs in the society is constantly pushing people to cross the Rubicon.

The absence of patience creates room for impatience, which means not being able to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering. People who lack patience often give up on their dreams and ambitions, forgetting that no obstacle in life lasts forever, not even the sad state of today nor the anticipated happy moments of the future. They often fail before the end of the journey.

The lack of patience has created societies that lead a cat and dog life. The old men out of impatience try to subdue the young men from showing the stuff they are made of, the young men out of impatience try to overthrow the old men from their positions. None is willing to accommodate another.

Perhaps, every rational individual with goodwill and living conscience, will advocate for everyone to have patience with the tiresome state of things, but the pertinent question remains, “To what extent can one exercise patience, is it limitless?” as disturbing as the question may appear, so many people have voiced out their opinions, from which a conclusion was drawn. Some believed that patience is limitless, while others say it is limited.

The limitless nature of patience
Anything that is limitless has no border, extent, or size.

This school of thought proposed that one should keep exercising patience for as long as possible. This means that even if it takes hours, days, weeks, years, decades, centuries, or eternity, patience should be exercised because what will be would be. Even in the state of inaction, the fear of the unknown propels this belief. They believe that without the existence of limitless patience, the world will be a living hell for humanity. They often say that things will surely get better.

To the mind, comes the story of a man who was digging for gold at a particular site, for so many months, but as he was almost getting close to the gold, unknown to him, he gave up because of impatience, and another person took over and worked on the site for just a day, and uncovered the gold. They suggested that if the man had believed in the limitless nature of patience, he would have excavated the gold, and go home a happy man.

The limited nature of patience
Anything that is limited has restrictions and extent, of which one cannot overcome.

This school of thought advocates that patience can be divided into stages and possibly be timed. These stages and timing; differs between individuals and can only be applied to repetitive problems that need repetitive patience.  

At perilous times, a necessary action ends the repetitive cycle of patience and problems, thereby ending patience. They believe that whatever has a beginning has an end, and that does not exclude patience as time and tide, waits for no one.

To the mind, comes the experiment of a balloon. When one picks up a balloon and inflates it gradually, the balloon increases in size and accumulates more pressure. The inflated balloon can be said to be exercising patience for the problem (air) coming into it.  Then at a particular time or stage, the balloon has no other option than to burst. In Engineering, according to the theory of elastic limit, the balloon will be said to have exceeded its elastic limit - yield point (the limit beyond which it can no longer contain nor withhold the pressure imposed on it, and therefore cannot return to the way it was before), thus deformed.

Should one decide to give patience limits or allow it to be limitless?
Various scholars have stated that patience is indeed essential and very much needed in every step of life. Everyday people exercise patience, both consciously and unconsciously. A farmer needs patience to embrace harvest, an undergraduate in a university needs patience to become a graduate, every parent need patience to watch their crawling baby become a respectable member of the society etc.  

In so many facets of life, patience has proven to be invaluable, but notwithstanding the astronomical importance of patience in life, everything has limits and nothing is limitless except the creator of the universe (God). The characters and behaviours of man have limits. There is an actual time and space for every event on earth. Although some aspects of life demand limitless patience, other aspects of life demand limited patience. The determining factor to know which one to follow is the presence or absence of HOPE.

In the Igbo tribe of Nigeria, an adage says, “asokata eze anya, ekpuru nkata gwa ya okwu” meaning “when one keeps enduring the excessiveness of a king, at a point one covers himself with a backup to speak boldly to him and call him to order.” This adage portrays the inability of man to endure most especially pain, maltreatment, and unfavourable circumstances without casting away patience.

In the Holy Book, God kept warning the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. He was infuriated with their evil lifestyle, He warned them to stop, but no way. It became clear that there was no Hope of the people changing their ways. No one heeds His warnings nor obeys His commands. 

The patience of God was fast running out, and when He could no longer accumulate their misbehaviour, just like an inflated balloon expanding against limits, He instructed Lot his servant to leave the city with his family, and then He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and brimstone. This scenario, plus the fact that patience has limits and can be exhausted.

Still, in the Holy book, Abraham and Sarah was childless, they adopted the limitless patience approach because there was Hope, an assurance from God to fulfil His promise, which was to make Abraham the father of all nations, God can’t possibly make him a father of all nations without a child. 
The Lord took him outside and said, “Gaze into the sky and count the stars—if you are able to count them!” Then he said to him, “So will your descendants be.”Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord considered his response of faith as proof of genuine loyalty. - Genesis 15: 5
Abraham believed strongly in what God can do and was not in doubt, although his wife was. They stayed together and never divorced, believing God to fulfil his words. Finally, Sarah bore Isaac. This also plus the fact that patience can appear as a limitless virtue.

Hope as a concept, is the belief or expectation that something wished for can or will happen. Once one has hope, then patience is readily available. If a situation arises and one sees the glimpse of hope in it, he or she should adopt a limitless patience approach. In the midst of hope, if one decides to cast away patience, then impatience is in action. If a situation arises where there seems to be no hope, and clearly even the blind can see that there is no hope, then one should adopt the limited patience approach as soon as possible and do the needful.


Does patience have limits? Yes. Can patience be limitless? Yes. However, in both cases, the concerned individual should be wise and rational enough, not be biased or confused in which of the approaches to be adopted. The presence of hope can be seen as a green light (approval), and its absence should be seen as a red light {disapproval), when it comes to dealing with patience.

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