The day middle daughter turned 10, she and I went to Guatemala on a mission trip. We engaged the local children in song, dance, art, teaching, and basically just loved on them for a week. One of the songs we taught them named 'Fruits of the Spirit' and it was at that point that I actually memorized them for myself. We rattled them off while counting on our fingers: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, faith and self-control. At some point in your spiritual walk, you have likely prayed for each one of these Godly characteristics. I know I have.
Then, I was introduced to Galatians 5: 22-23: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering , gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control: against such there is no law. (KJB)
Longsuffering? Where did that one come from? Who would want that? Who would possibly pray for that? And yet, there it sits, like the ugly duckling amidst its beautiful sisters. Longsuffering. A gift from God. But, why?
It's no surprise the gift of longsuffering didn't make it into the children's song, but nonetheless it is a gift of God. And, it is closely tied with something we all desire … and that's patience. But, patience is not something God 'gives' us, it's a beautiful quality he 'teaches' us. And, He teaches us through longsuffering.
When we suffer, we have two options. One is to give up, the other is to press on. If we choose to move forward, we have another choice. We can blame God, blame others, and blame ourselves, leading us to despair. Or, we can rightly choose to embrace longsuffering, declaring our steadfast hope and trust that Jesus will do what we cannot. That He will give us the ability to endure when the world enables us to give up. That He will move when we have done all we know to do, and have failed. That He will work in powerful ways that the nonspiritual cannot comprehend. That He will deliver us from fear and bondage. That he will bring joy when by the world standards, we are entitled to be miserable. And that He will bring redemption, purpose, and light to hopeless situations.
In my own life, I suffered years under the fear and guilt brought by raising a prodigal. There were times that the only hope for my daughter was found in Jesus. By all accounts, she should have overdosed or succeeded in one of her attempts of suicide. It was through longsuffering in my life that I learned how to absolutely depend on God. And it was in my full dependence upon him that my daughter's life began to change.
If you have been praying and interceding for a loved one for a long time, you too know well the pain of longsuffering. Although it is difficult, I encourage you to look at these trials as a gift from the Lord. Allow your inability to change the situation as an opportunity to full express your total devotion and faith in the Lord. He CAN do what we cannot. In Him along, we have peace and hope for the future.