Patience, we're told, is a virtue. And it is.
But when you combine it with faith so that it becomes perseverance, it becomes one of the most powerful forces known to humankind.A wonderful - and very well-known - example of that patience and faith is taught by the efforts of Mosiah's son, Ammon, in the conversion of King Lamoni. (See Alma chapters 17-19.) But Ammon's story also includes another inspiring - but generally less-remembered - example of how patience and faith bring bounteous blessings from the Lord.
Let's begin with a brief recounting of Ammon and Lamoni.
To begin, recall the wicked past of Ammon and Mosiah's other sons. They not only failed to embrace the gospel, but actually worked to destroy it. Imagine the agony of their righteous parents as they watched their own children tear down that which they knew to be of more worth than anything else.
The patience and faith of Mosiah and his wife, however, allowed them see the sons' conversions.
The sons had been spiritually lost; now they had returned. Then imagine the bitter-sweet feelings of having the four sons want to leave home again - but this time to spread the gospel.
While stories of these missionaries are some of the most powerful recorded in scripture, it is well to remember that their successes came after considerable trial. Recalling his missionary work, Ammon said: "Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success." (Alma 26:27.) Because the Book of Mormon is an abridgment of a much longer record, the reader can sometimes erroneously believe that great things happened much quicker than they did. Ammon had been serving his mission for approximately two years - the total length of most modern-day missions - before he even met the king. And we don't know exactly how long that conversion process took.
Yet Ammon persevered; he remained unmovingly faithful to the Lord and his calling and had faith that the Lord's will would be done. Because of that great work, literally thousands were brought to a knowledge of Christ.
The second, sometimes overlooked, example of patience and faith is that of the Lamanite woman Abish. (See Alma 19.) During Lamoni's conversion, he was overcome by the Spirit to such a degree that he lay unconscious for two days. When the king's wife and Ammon were also overcome, the king's subjects became afraid. All, that is, except Abish.
Abish already had a testimony for she had been "converted unto the Lord for many years. . . . " (See Alma 19:16.) Imagine this sweet woman's joy when, after many years of necessarily holding her membership in the kingdom a secret, she could now run from house to house proclaiming the good news to all she could find. (See Alma 19:17.) We, of course, don't know exactly how long she had lived her testimony in anonymity. But we do know she showed patience and faith for "many years."
Then, as if that faithful patience needed to be tested one last time, those whom she summoned to receive the joyous message of the gospel began to dispute about what they saw - failing to take advantage of the Spirit's outpouring in their behalf. (See Alma 19:28.) Discouraging for Abish? It must have been.
But remaining true to her faith, Abish, no doubt under the influence of the Spirit, lifted the queen's hand and the queen arose and praised God, then similarly lifted the king's hand, who settled the disputation among his subjects.
Abish's faith, tested once again, remained strong. And her joy must have been immense. The blessing, though not received quickly, was well worth the wait.
Besides being instrumental in bringing the gospel to her neighbors, Abish also witnessed the Spirit's outpouring as Ammon administered unto them. And like those who were converted by the Spirit accompanying King Benjamin's words a generation earlier (see Mosiah 5:2), these people experienced a mighty change in their hearts.
" . . . When Ammon arose he also administered unto them, . . .
andT their hearts had been changed; that they had no more desire to do evil." (See Alma 19:33.) Yes, patience is a virtue. And, yes, by linking it to faith and firm perseverance we take another essential step toward being like the Savior.