Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. I Peter 4:16.
Many people are often surprised that longsuffering is one of the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit. The question often asked is, “What does longsuffering really mean?” It is simply to suffer for a long time. So does this mean if one is walking in the Spirit, he or she should be able to endure suffering for an extended period of time? The answer is yes. As matter of fact, the Apostle Peter puts it this way, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His Glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (I Peter 4:12-13). James, Jesus’ brother puts it this way, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (James 1:2). And Jesus says, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation (suffering or trouble); but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” John 16:33.
Longsuffering means the ability to endure wrong or difficulties for an extended period of time without compromising your core values. In other words, when life deals you a bad hand, when things are not going well at home through no fault of your own, when you face challenges in your business when you are doing everything you know to do but the problems seem to go on forever; if you endure, remain patient, stay the course, and do not compromise your values, you have suffered long.
You may say, “This is not possible, can anyone go through extended challenges or difficulties and remain faithful to their core values?” The answer is yes you can and you must; this is what it means to be a Christian.
Consider Job, a wealthy and honorable businessman who fears God but is attacked by Satan with God’s permission. Though Job is a righteous man, Satan challenges God that the only reason Job is faithful to Him is because God placed a hedge of protection around him, his household and his possessions (Job 1:1-10). The Lord therefore removes the hedge of protection from around him and gives Satan permission to attack him with one exception; he could not lay hands on Job himself. As a result, Job loses everything including his children, (Job 1:12 – 19). Though this brings Job into a season of longsuffering he does not sin or charge God with wrong rather he states, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). Even after this, the devil seeks permission to attack his body and health which the Lord grants him and still Job remains faithful before God (he suffers long). Although his wife tells him to curse God and his friends say he must have done something wrong, Job’s stance is reflected in these words, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God” (Job 19:25-26). In the end God restores everything that Job lost and blesses him with more than he had before.
Of course not all longsuffering will end up the way that Job’s ended, nor are all longsufferings an attack of the devil. There are times when we go through longsuffering due to our own sin such as in the case of Jonah, or as a test from God such as in the case of Joseph. No matter the reason for your longsuffering choose to react this way:
- If it is due to your own sin, repent.
- Count it all joy (Keep a positive mental attitude).
- Meditate upon Scripture (Stand on God’s promises).
- Be thankful for who God is and His promises.
- Pray for grace to enable you to bear the challenge.
- Pray for the wisdom to learn from it.
- Guard your heart and mind from negativity.
My prayer for you this week is that God will grant you the grace to count it all joy when going through longsuffering and the wisdom to learn from it.
Copyright © 2012 Patrice Tsague ALL RIGHTS RESERVED!
Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version of the Bible.