By Pastor Royston
“You have no control of uncertainties! You can only control your life and your reaction to any event. May you find grace for patient endurance.” ― Lailah Gifty Akita, Think Great: Be Great!
In my younger days, I was a bit rebellious. Sporadically, I slipped away after church to the odd ‘garage party’. Since my family was well known, I’d find the darkest spot to hide. A saint during the day, a party animal at night; this was my reality. I spent so much time looking over my shoulder, I didn’t have a chance to enjoy it. So why did I bother to go? Partly curiosity, and to be able to join in the lunch-time conversations at school. Someone in my community confronted me about my nocturnal activity and the church got wind of it. Instead of dishing out the expected rebuke, they were patient with me and used it as a teachable moment.
The word longsuffering means having or showing patience, despite troubles, especially those caused by others. It is an often-used term throughout the Holy Bible. Though an archaic character trait, it is more needed in our society today, where impatience, intolerance and insensitivity are the rule of law. The Apostle Paul wrote, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith…” Gal 5:22. A person who is longsuffering, does not excuse wrongdoing but instead ‘dishes out justice with a bowl of grace’. Everyone at some point in their life needs to be spared from their debt, punishment or obligations. It is at times like these, that longsuffering is in high demand.
It is so easy to overreact when we experience discomfort or distress. In many cases our response is unrelated to the current issue, rather lingering resentment from past unresolved issues. Tempers flare and we end up causing injury and hurt. Proverbs 14: 29 indicates that “He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalts folly.” Anger is often seen as a sign of weakness and frustration. If unchecked, it can lead us to harm others. Being longsuffering toward those who oppress us, and friends who annoy us, is only possible with God.
All Paulo and Sonia wanted was to have a baby of their own. Yet it seemed a wish that would never be granted. Daily, they spend time in prayer, asking God for a breakthrough. In their culture, being childless is seen as a curse. The sarcastic comments of the community were unbearable. The couple persevered and faithfully trusted God for an answer. Instead of retaliating in anger they drew closer to God and doubled their efforts in prayer. Eventually, God blessed them with twins. It took a lot of long-suffering to patiently endure the ridicule.
To bear adversity with meek submission to the will of God; to endure chastisement with all long-suffering and joyfulness; to appear cheerful amid surrounding gloom, hopeful amidst desponding circumstances, happy in God when there is nothing else to make us happy; he who does this has indeed made great advances in the divine life.John Anfell James
Irrespective of our temperament, an attitude of longsuffering can be developed, resulting in a calm and patient attitude. Another noticeable benefit is its positive effect on our mental health and well-being which contrasts with impatience (which results in a rushed and stressful life). ‘Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering’ (Colossians 3:12).
Dear Heavenly, Father help us to trust that you know best and will work things out in your time. Develop in us patience of character, so we will learn to wait without complaining. Through your son’s name, Amen.