We are on a lifelong pursuit of pleasing God. No one promised that the journey though life would be an easy one. In fact, Jesus warned us that we would face trouble. Yet He knows that we can succeed because He personally gave us the tools that we need. One of the things we have at our disposal is called longsuffering; it is an attribute that reflects God’s character in our lives.
Although it works to our advantage to be longsuffering, our culture doesn’t value the trait, perhaps because it is inconvenient for people to become vulnerable by putting their emotions in compromising situations. Yet it is a characteristic of a godly woman.
God wants you to reap the benefit of His myriad blessing. We are blessed when we behave in ways that please Him. Therefore, His Word includes many prayers that are designed to encourage and strengthen your resolve to understand what He expects of us. As you read this prayer, ask the Holy Spirit to make it real to you so that it will manifest in your daily life: “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness.” (Colossians 1:10-12 kjv)
The word longsuffering means patiently enduring a lasting offense or hardship. To achieve this quality, we need to get to know God in a very special way. You cannot follow someone’s example, no matter how excellent it may be, unless you observe that person’s actions. This is yet another reason to have an intimate relationship with our Lord. He will show us how to cope with the various conditions of life–even adversity. We get so many benefits from handling difficult situations with longsuffering, such as the power to achieve good works, the ability to demonstrate tolerance of others, and the overall satisfaction of knowing that God is pleased with us.
It is good to suffer long when there is a godly purpose for the suffering. So many biblical characters demonstrated the trait. For example, Hannah, a devoted woman of faith, spent years of longsuffering as she waited on God to bless her with a child. Throughout her days of barrenness, she was exposed to the ridicule of her husband’s other wife. Although jealous of Hannah, the favored wife, Peninnah bore several offspring with the husband whom they shared. Because she seemingly had the upper hand, she loved to flaunt the fact that she had been blessed with children.
Scripture says that she made light of Hannah, reporting, “Her rival however, would provoke her bitterly to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb” (1 Samuel 1:6). Apparently, Hannah silenlty suffered the taunting; the Bible does not record any retaliation on her part. Instead, she took her petition to God. After some time, he answered her prayer, and Hannah did recieve a child from the Lord.
There are many others. But the greatest model of longsuffering is our Savior, Jesus. Teaching fickle crowds, enduring faithless disciples, and putting up with deserting followers, He suffered unto death.
How do you suffer for a long time without being destroyed in the process? Keep your relationship with God fine-tuned. Talk to Him about situations that trouble you and listen to what He has to say in return. Trust His guidance and know that He has your back. He will keep you from making rash decisions. He will also help determine when your suffering is not His will.
Take comfort in knowing that the Holy Spirit sets boundaries to protect us. Ask God, “How do You want me to handle this?” Study everything the Word says about the subject of godly suffering. Make sure you don’t pick and choose Scriptures, or you can be misled to a faulty conclusion.
For example, Linda was an abused wife. Her husband attended church regularly. She did not attend church very often and thought most Christians were hypocrites. One Sunday, she decided to go. The sermon was based on the Scripture, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22 KJV). After the service, her husband said, “See, if you would submit to me and do what I tell you I wouldn’t have to treat you the way I do.”
It didn’t make sense to Linda why her husband was so abusive. She knew that she followed his orders, but she could never do enough to please him. Linda had tried talking to God about it, but nothing had changed. She felt as if God was against her too. Unfortunately, her misunderstanding kept her estranged from Him.
Linda’s own husband was wrong. He misapplied Scripture, bending it to suit his own selfish purposes. If you are being abused, God is not pleased. You can find comfort in His Word, which will tell you how precious and loved you are. Your husband or boyfriend may use the Bible to tell you how awful you are and that you will never amount to anything. He might tell you how Satan uses you or is in control of you. He might even try to convince you how righteous he is in comparison to you.
Recognize that as spiritual abuse. But don’t be discouraged and give up on God. Your first line of defense is to pray and ask God to open your eyes and your heart to Him. He will always be there for you and will show you what to do. Then, if you have questions about His Word and need help in understanding it, consult a local minister that you believe you can trust. Most of all, know that God loves you for you.
As a final caution: beware of pride. Pride prevents longsuffering. Pride will tell you that you don’t have to suffer at all. This is unbiblical and ungodly.