I HATE longsuffering. You know what 'longsuffering' means? You got it - to suffer loooong. The The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition defines longsuffering as 'Patiently enduring wrongs or difficulties.' Okay, so not only do you have to endure WRONGS and DIFFICULTIES (in case you missed it), but you have to ENDURE them PATIENTLY. Yeah, right.
And, Wordnet defines longsuffering as 'patient endurance of pain or unhappiness'. So not only do you have to endure wrongs or difficulties, but you also have to endure PAIN and UNHAPPINESS. Did you get that - PAIN and UNHAPPINESS. Patiently. Alrighty, then.
And this is why I didn't want to write this post. I'm no good at stuff like this. I mean, I can suffer as well as the next person - FOR A LITTLE WHILE. And maybe even with a little patience thrown in (if I'm having a really good day) But to PATIENTLY endure PAIN, UNHAPPINESS, WRONGS and DIFFICULTIES for a LONG, LONG TIME??!! No way.
Not that this argument cuts me any slack with God. As I come to Him in the midst of my pain (unhappiness, experiencing wrongs and difficulties), He admonishes me to be patient. He talks to me, He comforts me. But you know what He doesn't do? He doesn't make my pain, unhappiness, wrong or difficulty go away. He gives me just enough to make it for another period of time until I have to come crawling back to Him to be restored, renewed and refreshed enough to go on....until the next time. Eventually, my difficulty (pain, wrong or unhappiness) goes away and I rejoice. And I try to forget that those bad seasons come (because I HATE longsuffering - did I mention that?). But, much like you, I'm always like, what gives? Why do we have to painfully SUFFER for a long time and ENDURE it with such PATIENCE? Why, Lord, why? (Or am I the only one who thinks this way?)
So today we will journey together as we try to answer those questions. And the most important one: Why does God want us to be longsuffering?
First of all, I'm thinking this whole longsuffering thing is pretty serious, since it comes right after love, joy and peace (the happy fruits). And, since, longsuffering has everything to do with endurance, I am going to try and find out why it is so important that we learn to endure. Which will answer my other questions. Namely, how do we benefit from learning to endure? And why does God require us to endure?
To endure means to carry on, no matter what is going on around us. One reason I discovered that we should endure is because God does. Psalm 9:7 says 'But the LORD shall endure for ever: he hath prepared his throne for judgment.' This verse speaks to the everlasting nature of God and how, at the end of our time here on earth, God will sit forever on His throne (after Satan has been dealt with). So His endurance is for a purpose - to last until our time here ends and our time with Him begins. So, out of this we can get two things: 1) We should endure because it is a Godly atrribute (and we are always want to be more like Him) and 2)We should endure because we also wait until the Lord Jesus returns and our earthly time here is at an end.
Endurance is actually mentioned in specific connection to the end times. In Matthew 24, Jesus speaks about end-time signs. He says
Mat 24:4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. Mat 24:5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. Mat 24:6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. Mat 24:7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.Jesus then goes on to talk about other things that will happen and then mentions the importance of endurance. He says 'But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.' So endurance appears to play a key part in our ability to surmount the challenges that will face us during the end times.
By enduring, we also show ourselves to be good soldiers in Christ, as stated in 2 Timothy 2:3, 'Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.' Endurance also helps us to participate in God's work of salvation: by enduring affliction of any kind, we can more readily preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, as Paul makes clear in 2 Timothy 2:10 'Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.' So it is part of our service to other people.
However, the most important part of suffering seems to be the eventual effect it will have on us: suffering will repair us, strengthen us and make us more grounded. 1 Peter says its it so clearly here:
1Pe 5:6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 1Pe 5:7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. 1Pe 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 1Pe 5:9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. 1Pe 5:10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. (emphasis mine)
So longsuffering is so very important because it determines our character. It helps us to be more like God. It prepares us for the challenges of the end time. It helps us as ministers of the gospel to be able to spread the Good News. And, finally, it makes us stronger. It helps us to mature in the faith and to be able to face whatever difficulties we are sure to face.
In that light, I'm thinking this longsuffering thing isn't as bad as I've always thought it was (and I'm starting to feel badly that I've always thought so poorly of it). Turns out it wasn't the torture chamber I always envisioned it to be, but God's way of making me over exactly the way I had always asked Him to. To grow me up, to mature me, to make be better able to withstand life's difficulties. Not just to let me suffer needlessly, but to make me a better person and a (much) better Christian.
I think I can live with that.
How about you?
Religion, Spirituality, Christian, Christianity, Patience, Suffering