The soul has two forces; the force to proceed and the force to restrain. The true quality of patience/steadfastness is to direct the force to proceed towards what is useful and restrain the force from that which is harmful.
Some people’s power of control over doing what is good and their firmness of it, is greater than refraining from what is bad and harmful. They are able to endure the hardship of performing good deeds, but have no control over their motives of lust and become involved in what is forbidden.
There are others whose power of control over violation is stronger than their endurance to the hardship of doing god deeds, and there are those who have no control over either.
The best person is he who is capable of controlling himself in both situations. It is observed that there are many people who endure persistently the hardship of keeping vigil in the night in both cold and hot weather, and observing the fast, but they are unable to control themselves from gazing at prohibited objects.
There are others who restrain their gaze and do not pay attention to images, yet they are unable to carry out the duty of commanding the good and prohibiting evil, or struggling against unbelievers and hypocrites.
They are utterly powerless and incapable of undertaking these tasks. Most people lack the determination of doing one or the other.
Very few have the ability to be steadfast in both circumstances.
It is said: “Steadfastness is the control of the rule of intelligence and religion against the desire to fulfil one’s lust and passion.”
This means that the natural disposition of man is to incline towards what is desirable, but the motives generated by intelligence and religion are opposed to it. The battle between the two continues and success alternates. The battlefield for this war is the heart of a human being and the weapons are steadfastness, courage and firmness.
“And obey Allah and His Messenger (pbuh) and do not dispute (with one another) lest you lose courage and your strength departs, and be patient. Surely, Allah is with those who are As-Sabirun (the patient). Quran 8:46
(from Abdul Ali Hamid’s translation of Imam Ibn Al Qayyim’s Uddat Al-Sabirin wa Dhakhirat Al-Shakirin: Excellence of patience and Gratefulness).