Long-suffering is a painful experience which can cause a person to become bitter and revengeful OR show forth the fruit of the Spirit in a believer in Jesus Christ.
Long-suffering is endured in cases of spousal abuse, employer/supervisor harassment, chronic sickness or long-term disability in the family, successive failures in education, poor finance or relationships in the eyes of the world, and a personal “thorn in the flesh” as Paul had endured.
What is long-suffering?
One definition of Long suffering is “ enduring: patiently bearing continual wrongs or trouble; an enduring disposition” (wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn). It involves a torturing of the mind and a most uncomfortable environment, two factors which cause any one to be quick to anger or “explode”, cause trouble in relationships between the receiver /carer with the harasser/ patient. Long-suffering could be synonymous with patience, self-restraint, forbearance, being merciful and filled with grace. These are qualities hard to grasp with an element of self-sacrifice.
We know that Long-suffering is one of the graces (together with Goodness and Kindness) listed under the fruit of the Spirit and it is not affecting the individual person only but is manifested in relationships with others.
Why do we need Long-suffering?
- Because God is our example of Long-suffering – He loved us before we loved Him and waited for us to decide to turn to Him – some even don’t.
- As children of God, we need to follow His example – to be like Christ is our aim
- If we are not long-suffering, we will cause immense relationship problems among one another which is not befitting the children of God’s behavior, and bringing shame to His name as He expects us to live peaceably in Him.
Paul recognized the importance of Long-suffering and his challenge to young Timothy was “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine. “ 2 Timothy 2:4. This challenge should apply to us today especially as our pressures are mounting in every area of a person’s life in work, educational, family and social competitiveness, myriad of aches and pains newly discovered yet without permanent healing, and financial woes. If everybody “exploded” it will be really messy.
Our response to Paul’s challenge must truly be:
- To aim to live peaceably with long-suffering, with those around us despite pressure, tauntings and difficult circumstances
- To never take the long-suffering of our Lord for granted.
May we be Long-suffering and
- abound in good works and in the love, grace and mercy of the Lord,
- with the 24/7 presence of the Holy Spirit in us to strengthen us, prompt us and uphold us in the face of opposition, adversity in circumstances and personal discomfort and affront
- for His sake and glory that others may see Jesus in us
- pray for wisdom and discernment to address each case as He would have us do.
Oh! to be like Thee, full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender-hearted and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wand’ring sinner to find.
Oh! to be like Thee, oh! to be like Thee,
Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
By Thomas O Chisholm