Longsuffering. I always thought that meant a long period of suffering with the focus on the suffering. I am currently in a trial that has lasted so much longer than I could have imagined. In desperation to find a way out, I decided to dive into the Word to learn about longsuffering to determine how to end it!
What I found, however, changed my perspective.
Longsuffering actually means having patience. Longsuffering in the Bible is made up of two Greek words meaning “long” and “temper”; “long-tempered.” To be longsuffering, then, is to have patience and self-restraint while one is in a challenge.
Gulp! God has a beautiful way of helping us see things through an eternal lens.
Galatians 5:22 states, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness”. Long-suffering is a fruit of the spirit! Many translations use the word patience. Now I understand it is because they are one and the same.
Ok, so God knew we would have long trials and he wants us to remain steadfast in Him through it all? Yup, that’s what I believe it means.
Romans 5:3-4 adds, “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Glory in our sufferings is not usually our first response. It truly takes that eternal perspective to remember that God works all things for good and that a trial today may change course in our lives, strengthen a weakness, or open a new door leading us closer to God’s perfect will for our lives and the lives of those around us.
So next I looked into examples of people in the Bible who experienced longsuffering.
Abraham and Sarah had been trying to get pregnant. At 90 years old it seemed impossible.
Caleb wondered in the wilderness for 40 years.
Paul was stoned and in prison for a lengthy time.
Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den.
Job had a loss of possessions, the death of children, and personal health struggles.
Joseph was sold into slavery and imprisoned.
Jesus was persecuted and hung on a cross.
Suddenly my tribulations don’t seem so serious!
As I think back on trials in my life, I can honestly say that some of my greatest hardships I am grateful I endured because of the outcome. This is why there is so much power in journaling through a trial. It helps you keep a record of how God walked you through it. I’m confident each of these pillars of the faith in the Bible would say the same. Each prayed and trusted God in their trials and the outcomes proved it.
Abraham became the father of many nations.
Caleb entered the promised land.
Paul was dragged out of the city where he was stoned and left for dead, but the apostles prayed over him and he continued to live a life of teaching and writing about God, much of the time while in prison.
The Lion’s mouth was shut and Daniel was not harmed.
The Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.
Joseph interprets dreams and is shown favor from God and the Pharaoh and because of Joseph’s position, his own family is rescued from famine.
Jesus is resurrected and saves ALL who choose to follow him from eternal damnation into salvation.
If you are currently in a season of suffering, as I am, I encourage you to think back on the times God has walked you through a trial and consider the eternal perspective of why you may be going through one now. I had a pastor that used to say, “God cares more about your eternal destiny than your current comfort.” Is it possible that being uncomfortable now, if for a greater purpose later?
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” -James 1:12
This period of longsuffering has given me greater stamina to pray for others and more compassion for those hurting. It has removed some of the blinders that this world creates such as busyness and a desire for earthly things. Those don't mean as much when all you want is to just get past a trial and when your true desire is God’s will in it all. I’ve learned to take the focus off my troubles and hand it to God. I pray that your trial is doing these things for you too and you also can lay your burdens down at His feet.
Seek God’s face daily and lay your cares on Him. God is close to the broken-hearted and loves you so much.
“The God of all grace, who called you his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” (1 Peter 5:10).
Christ assured us life would be difficult, “but take heart!” He promised, “I have overcome the world.”