Long-suffering – Endurance/Triumph
As I reflected on the fruit of the Spirit, I remembered a few weeks ago while I was out grocery shopping, I observed people as they purchased fruits. Apples, oranges, and bananas were the top selections, no one purchased prunes, it seemed like the unwanted fruit. As I thought about it, that scene was a good picture of our desires for spiritual gifts, because most of us desire gifts like prophecy or healing. However, if the truth be told and each of us was given the opportunity to choose one of the nine fruit (Galatians 5:22-23), none of us would choose long-suffering.
Nobody likes to suffer, and nobody wants to be good at doing that for a long time. When we imagine our lives, most of us are filled with hopes and dreams of what the future would look like. But what if your plan was different from God’s plan? In fact, it's probably safe to say that God’s plan will be different from your plan and God’s plan, many times does include suffering. When describing what it is like to follow him, “Jesus says one must deny himself, take up his cross and follow him” (Luke 9:23). For many of us, following Jesus means walking down a road that includes longsuffering sometimes, but the good news is, we are guaranteed ultimate victory through Jesus Christ who causes us to triumph (2Corinthians 2:14).
Long-suffering reveals itself in various ways, some of which are: a failed marriage, sickness, loss of a job, financial hardship, betrayal by a loved one, rejection, persecution, trials, temptation, loss of child or a spouse, and the list goes on. Our response to long-suffering will determine the outcome, whether we will triumph with a testimony or fail in the agony of defeat.
The real question is, how do we navigate life during seasons of long-suffering? In the old testament, there is a great example of how to suffer well and it's the story of a man named Job, who went through a season of life that you could say was the epitome of long-suffering.
The Bible tells us that Job was rich, a man of integrity, who had bountiful possessions, was blessed with ten children and he feared God. Job did everything that was right but in one moment his life spiraled out of control, he lost all his possessions, his children died, and his body became afflicted. To make matters worse, Job’s friends who he looked to for comfort weren’t as loyal as he expected them to be, even his wife became discouraged because of his condition.
What a predicament Job found himself in! No doubt he had many sleepless night as physically his body endured extreme pain, and emotionally he grieved for his children, and what looked to be a very bleak future. In response to his suffering, Job made the three important decisions that helped him endured the long suffering and ultimately saw his season changed.
The first decision Job made was to Worship. When he realized that he had lost everything including his children, Job worshipped and declared “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away: blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). Job did not allow his dismal circumstances to obstruct his response in worship.
He recognized that God desires us to worship Him in every season, so he responded accordingly. Worship does not change our predicament but it does change our perspective. When we worship, we focus on our Big God instead of our problem.
Next, Job kept his focus—Even though his circumstances seemed dismal, Job remained steadfast in his faith. He shut his ears to the negative voice echoing, “curse God and die”, and dismissed the insinuation that he must have done something wrong to cause such suffering. In maintaining his focus during suffering, Job affirmed, “Thou He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15). During the season of suffering we must maintain our focus on what God is doing in us rather than what is happening to us.
Finally, Job kept Hope alive. He refused to give up on God. Yes, Job had moments of discouragement. At one point, Job cursed the day he was born, yet he looked towards the future with the expectation that a change would come. Surely God did not disappoint Job, he got double for his troubles. “So, the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning …”, (Job 42:12). Job’s endurance of longsuffering was rewarded and he triumphed with a testimony.
Dear God, I pray for someone who is dealing with difficulty, help them to endure well. Give them the gift of long suffering so they can make it through this season. Give them the strength to cultivate an atmosphere of Worship, to Focus on the right things and to keep Hope alive. In Jesus name, Amen
Submitted by Pearl Huggins