Jamaica Patois Wisdom - Patience

by Jefferson David Tant

The Jamaican Patois dialect is colorful, unique and humorous. It is my desire to share some of the philosophy shown in this mix of colorful phrases that are witty as well as thought-provoking. I hope the readers both profit and enjoy. In my quarter-century plus of teaching there, I have come to appreciate some things about their culture.

Coconut on a beachPatois: One one coconut full basket

English: The basket can be filled even by adding just one thing at a time

Meaning: One can achieve their goals if they are patient and determined

A familiar adage in the English language (and perhaps other languages, as well) is “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” The operative word both in Patois and English is “patience.” It is also an often used word in Scripture. We find the word and its variations some 46 times in the Bible.

This is one of the characteristics of God, who has exercised great patience with his people time and again. Over and over he put up with Israel’s disobedience and stubbornness. We would certainly be without hope if the Lord was not patient with us in our own weaknesses. Please consider some of the various applications of the exhortation for us to be patient.

With Life

The end of a matter is better than its beginning; patience of spirit is better than haughtiness of spirit” (Ecclesiates 7:8). Our world is conditioned to instant gratification. Even food is marketed as “instant coffee,” “Jiffy corn muffin” and “instant pudding.” This generation expects, as soon as they graduate, things their parents and grandparents worked many years for. But it is well known that we have a much greater appreciation for things we labor for rather than what is merely handed to us. “Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting” (Psalms 126:5).

With Erring Brethren

Do we sometimes get tired of brethren who are weak and stumble a lot? Of course we do! Should we give up on them? Obviously there comes a time to move on when it is apparent that they do not want to change, but “We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone” (I Thessalonians 5:14).

With Teaching the Lost

Obviously we would like for each prospect to be like the eunuch, who, after one lesson, said to Philip, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” (Acts 8:37). Thankfully, I have had a few like that, but not many. Some may take years. We had a sister whose patience with an unbelieving husband eventually won him after 27 years. He even began preaching some. What is the value of a soul? What is the result if we give up too soon?

With Ourselves

Did you ever undertake a difficult task, and after various obstacles and setbacks throw up your hands and say “I quit”? We’ve all probably been there. But there is one goal where quitting is not an option—heaven! “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains” (James 5:7). When the going gets tough, “we glory in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation works patience” (Romans 5:3). Even in difficult times, we can look to the Lord for strength.

Behold, we call them blessed that endured: ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord, how that the Lord is full of pity, and merciful" (James 5:10).

For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised” (Hebrews 10:36).

Remember, “One one coconut full basket.”