Longsuffering: Growing Through Struggle

2007 was a difficult year for my family. Ten days after the birth of our second child, my husband’s father died. He had developed a very aggressive form of bone marrow cancer that took him quickly, and my husband was devastated. That summer, the country’s mortgage industry imploded taking my husband’s company with it. In the fall, he was in a car accident that totaled our only working vehicle. By the end of that year, we were unemployed, had two babies we were trying to feed, were suffocating under a mortgage we could not pay, and we were driving a totaled vehicle with one headlight dangling out of its socket.

Longsuffering (adjective): having or showing patience in spite of troubles

Longsuffering is a Fruit of the Spirit many of us want to avoid. Quite honestly, who really wants to endure the difficulties of life like losing a loved one, being downsized, experiencing a health scare, being evicted, or not being able to make ends meet? Not me. But God uses seasons of longsuffering to build our patience, faith, and trust in Him. He also uses those trials to reveal Himself to us in miraculous ways.

Longsuffering is not a new phenomenon. We can look to the Bible for examples of those who experienced seasons of longsuffering and emerged with faith that had been strengthened by their trial. Take Job, for instance. Most of us know his story. He was characterized by God as a man who was “blameless and upright” (Job 1:8). God knew nothing the enemy could do would make Job abandon his faith, even losing his wealth, his children, and his livestock. Even when he was afflicted with painful sores from head to toe, when his wife told him to “curse God and die” (Job 2:9), or when his friends tried to convince him that he was in his season of longsuffering because he had sinned and needed to repent. Job may have agonized about his situation, but he never cursed God.

According to 1 Samuel 13:14, David was a “man after God’s own heart”. It was his faith that enabled him to kill the giant Goliath, and that made him a great warrior and king. Though he experienced many triumphs, David also endured many seasons of longsuffering. During those times, he, like Job, never cursed God. Instead he poured his heart out to the Lord through prayer for help, guidance, and protection, and he praised God for his infinite wisdom, love, and affection. You can read David’s songs of praise throughout the book of Psalms.

Mary and Martha were friends of Jesus, who, during his travels, had supper in their home (Like 10:38-42). Their season of longsuffering began when their brother Lazarus became ill. They sent word to Jesus that Lazarus was on his deathbed, but Christ did not respond to their call for help. The fact that both Mary and Martha were angry and confused that Jesus did not come when they needed him did not stop them from believing in his infinite wisdom and power. They confessed that they believed Jesus was indeed the “resurrection and the life…the Christ” which enabled Jesus to perform one of his greatest miracles: the resurrection of Lazarus (John 11: 25-27, 38-43).

What does any of this have to do with you and your season of longsuffering, you may be asking yourselves? Job, David, Mary and Martha all experienced very common seasons of longsuffering-losing possessions, social status, and even burying loved ones-but they never allowed their circumstances to harden their hearts toward God.

Your season of longsuffering is not God’s personal vendetta against you. It is God’s way of building your faith. During this season, you will experience God as your Father, your Provider, your Banner, your Healer, your Peace, your Rock, your Shepherd, your Hope, the God that is always there for you. Friends may come and go, but God is that friend who will carry you through your trials when your walk becomes too burdensome to bear. Your job during your season of longsuffering is to guard your faith, focus on your praise, not allow the enemy to stifle your worship, and trust that “weeping endures for a night”, but that your joy and the end of the season of longsuffering will come (Psalms 30:5). 

Please comment and share how God is walking with you through your season of longsuffering. Join me Wednesday, June 29th as I discuss Love for Week 2 of the "Living the Fruit of the Spirit" Selah Blog Series.