Thursday, June 22, 2006

Fruit of the Spirit: Longsuffering

The next fruit of the Spirit we are going to cover is longsuffering. And, let me say something calmly and rationally before we begin:

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?

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Nappily Evah Aftah said...

"...That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings..."
Phil 3:10

Ahhh yes! Longsuffering. The supernatural ability to suffer long, with the right attitude and outlook. This is a biggie, for me.

What's interesting about this particular "fruit" is that it's not talking about the suffering we experience, because of our own wrongdoing (which is probably a VERY large percentage of a Christian's suffering), but the natural sufferings that come with life — designed to build character, which is always tough, because Christ's character is pure and perfect. He did the right things, for the right reasons, at the right times — all the time. That's a tall order.

Longsuffering is a trip. But you know what? I think I can handle it, better than the suffering that comes from bad decisions. Thst's the suffering that's most difficult — cuz it could have been prevented. Now, God is good, because He allows ALL things to work together, for our good. But it's just the mental anguish that comes with knowing that the suffering you're experiencing didn't have to be.

mmog37 said...

I like 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?) No you are not the only one who thinks that =)

I used to have a hard time with this myself, but one day I made the mistake of praying and asking God to give me more patience...(NEVER do this!) The end result was after suffering long through a lot of different situations I developed a new outlook. God is all about our relationship with relating to Him and Him to us. Everything that comes naturally to us is contrary to the way God is. The Fruit of the Spirit is our measure to see just how well we are relating with God. The more I try to suffer Long...the more I realize I can't do it without God's help...because when I do it on my own I can suffer long...but I tend to remember who caused my suffering even longer...and that's not right ;)

By getting closer to HIm, and depending on HIm I can suffer Long and I always grow to Love and appreciate Him even more because I realize how much He must Love me and how Great He really is, for choosing to suffer through the things He did to Save Me

ms mimi the mocha soulchild said...

I too don't like suffering, especially when there is no expiration date printed and labeled on your particular brand. There are some things we suffer for a season, and others we will suffer with our whole lives, until the resurrection comes. But one thing is clear; we cannot develop the character of Christ without experiencing the suffering of Christ. It is amazing to me how often I complain about suffering and then think rather petulantly, well I am a Christian. What does it mean to be a Christian? You were molded in the image of a man who was wronged, lied on, persecuted, beaten, spat on and killed, when he did nothing wrong. What we go through is only a fraction of what he felt.

The only consolation in suffering is that God will reward us many times over when we experience trials and persectution. Usually suffering makes you a humbler, kinder, more loving person if you allow God to be with you through it.

And although I admit, I am tired of suffering, I know God loves me, and although I don't understand why we suffer, I just believe that he does. For the moment that is enough.

As long as we are on earth and away from God's tru plan for our lives I believe we will always suffer. Yet one day, we will be reunited with him, and we will have complete knowledge...on that day we will understand.

Sonya Triggs-Wharton said...

Thank you all for your comments. That whole longsuffering thing threw me for a loop, for sure. It's good to know that I am not alone and that we all go through the same experiences. Hopefully, we can all grow through our development of this particular fruit.

I will be praying for all of you and pray for me as well!

Jemi said...

Thankyou Sonya!! I was hurting when I fumbled upon this article. It was a blessing. God bless you!!

Unknown said...

Thank you for this topic. Just a reminder of the greatest longsufferer of all, Job. How important it has been that the community of faith has kept this example before us in The Bible. For myself, have just come through ten years of long-suffering - but God has shown me that that is over now, just as Job's longsuffering came to an end. As for what it does to character, I think I am getting back to who I used to be a long time ago - but I can tell you that in the early stages my character did change. OK, I did not turn into an evil monster, but I think my personality was tinged with the sadness and upheaval of it all and, even though people didn't know the story or knew me before to make the contrast, it seemed to be something that people could pick up on. Never no mind. Gone now, by God's grace.

Blessings and bliss

Anonymous said...

I see, by the date, that this was written some time ago. I found it on a search for longsufferring.
My son was killed by a terrorist in Little Rock, Arkansas on June 1 2009. It is now 10 months later, tomorrow. As you can imagine I have gone through much, physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. It is not over by a long shot. I have been approached by many who have lost children. I have been told, "It never goes away!" by them all whether 1 or 2 years have past or 17 years!
I have told people that the vivid realization comes to me I TRUST MY GOD. Doesn't make the pain go away, nor the sleepless nights, nor teary days go away. However, deep in the depths of my being - I know, I TRUST MY GOD. So, baby steps in this time of longsufferring AND it will last as long as it lasts. At least that's my story now and I'm sticking to it. Thank you for your article and the verses which I will be meditating on this week.

Karla said...

I heard a pastor speaking on the Fruits of the Spirit one Sunday and his question to the congregation that day was, "What is your fruit of the Spirit?" Later that week while I was attempting to prove to myself that my fruit was gentleness or kindness, I came to realize that it has and always will be longsuffering. From the very day I entered the world until the day I leave it I believe myself to be a connoisseur of difficulties.
Upon each new hardship, I find myself crawling into the lap of Christ for comfort from my Heavenly Father and healing from the Almighty Physician. Although in my minds eye I picture myself in a fetal position in the lap of God I come out of it ready to march on a stronger and more fit Soldier of God. A bit more tattered than before, maybe, but with new insights of His enduring love. God has promised to never leave us nor forsake us, nor to put more hardships on us than we can bear. I certainly believe this to be true. We as humans can NOT bare all things for a long time and with patience and grace. This is when I have to turn to God and asks for help that I so hate asking for. We come out of each battle a changed person with new insights making us more humble, patience, kind and prepared, even more so, for a future only God knows.
Personally I would like to know just what exactly all this suffering and patience and so forth and so on is good for, but that is for God to know and for me to find out. I may not like it, but as say to my daughter, that’s tough! I suppose that as long as I find the answers in God's Kingdom, I am willing to suffer long for the perfect Lamb that suffered ultimately for me. What else could I do? I cannot get through hardships on my own.

mencari kebenaran said...

1 would like to ask you baby..where is the story of jesus when he was at thirteen tiil twentynine years old
in bible??

and the second is when the first time jesus was potreted?
and who was his photograper?
what kind of brand of camera was used?

the third is.. is jesus the GOD OR human being?

did jesus ever give instruction to pray on sunday?

is there in bible if jesus one hundred present human and one hundred present GOD?

is there in bible said if you believe jesus as the GOD you will be entered to the heaven

1 need your answer as fast as possible..ok

Alva loves food said...

We are called to walk by faith, trusting him with our lives, which we gladly give and are called to do. With this in mind if you're laid down your own life and given it to him, are you required to wait on him? Then isn't longsuffering is an immediate reaction to his will? All it means is you are waiting on him. When you think of all the things you wait on, with no such rewards, then isn't waiting on God an amazing thing. Lord I know you got this, and I am excited to see what you are going to do... because we said we would trust him. When it looks bad, and your hurting, you are called to walk by faith and know through your relationship with him, that he is in control and working it all out for your good. "He" is working it out! Not you! So while he is working it out, and in control ..."you" are waiting lovingly, peacefully and with joy in your heart. That's longsuffering and there isn't anything I rather do, than wait on the Lord. Because those who hope in the Lord, will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. You my friend can do nothing, you gave your life to him and he is in control. All you have to do is put him first, think on him,stay in his word, let his spirit dwell in you and longsuffering will be your friend, your love and welcomed because you know God through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Be blessed.

Anonymous said...

I have been long suffering every night with next to no sleep since my baby was born almost 7 months ago. Last night I lost it at God (again), so desperate for him to end my suffering as I feel like I can't endure the sleep deprivation any more. This morning he sent me here. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Honest and blessed words. I think it will be much easiest for us to accept longsuffering when comparing to God's patience with us...