When life gets tough, how do you react? Do you throw your hands up in the air in resignation? Or do you patiently endure your difficult circumstances?
Tough times are unavoidable and inevitable; but you don’t have to let them make you miserable! How can you defeat harsh days? With longsuffering.
What is longsuffering? Longsuffering is the ability to patiently and cheerfully endure an unbearable situation. Longsuffering is a quality of Yahweh (Jehovah) God Almighty: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness; but is longsuffering to you-ward, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (II Peter 3:9, ASV)
Like our Creator, we are told to be “longsuffering, forbearing one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2, KJV) But how do we put on longsuffering and have it on for good?
Rabbi Michael Shevack says, “Longsuffering does indeed require long-suffering!” How true! But if you feel that suffering is a bad thing, think again. Suffering is actually a blessing in disguise; in many ways, it’s an exercise machine to strengthen our spirits. Rabbi Mike provides us some valuable tips to be more longsuffering:
1. When you are being tested for your patience, it is always helpful to quiet your mind, and remove yourself from thinking about your irritation. Then, call on God, “Thank you for showing me patience in this situation.” Right afterwards, just do what is natural,and allow the prayer to “take hold” on you. You will notice, very quickly, that the patience is provided. As an attribute of God,it is accessible to those “in Whose image” we are made.
2. Imagine yourself as a child; then imagine your parents struggling feeding you, diapering you, scolding you, when you make mistakes,and loving you, all the way. When longsuffering is needed, become a parent to the situation, rather than a stumbling child. Take on the role of a helper, of shepherding the situation, rather than being lost as an adversary. As your Father in Heaven parents,so you parent.
Cynthia Burnham, executive leadership coach, says, “Sometimes I become distracted or frustrated when talking with others. When this happens, I direct my attention to the person in front of me, and think ‘I send you blessings.’ My focus moves away from myself and back to the other person. I stay in curiosity, and my patience returns.”
Author Susan Tordella, parenting coach and workshop conductor, says, “To become longsuffering, we must feel the consequences of our actions. Parents today protect children from pain. I never met a mistake I didn’t grow from. When children experience the results of their decisions, they develop character and good decision making. They become long suffering and resilient.” And these are the tips she gives to help us be more longsuffering:
1. Be with the pain, whatever it is. Don’t fight it or run from it. Allow the pain to be your teacher. Ask the pain what it has to teach you.
2. Practice patience. Learn to wait for other people to find their own answers, especially children. Learn to wait for what you want. Ask questions to point people towards their truth and watch them like we watch new grass grow in spring.
Here is what Greg Mattke has to say: “I broke my legs in a car wreck and need surgery to this day on my knees but you would never know it if I didn’t tell you. My tip on longsuffering is to keep an eye on what you have or what you can do, not the other way around. If you have a small home and wish you had a larger one, look at a homeless person and be thankful. If you have a chronic pain or injury, look at a person who can’t walk. Life is what we make of it. We can adapt and overcome or we can give in.”
C. Anthony Harris shares some great tips on how we can be more longsuffering:
1. Become more disciplined in studying the word of God so that you understand what longsuffering and patience actually involves.
2. Get excited about it because their is a purpose greater than you. Your trials often become triumphs for others.
Kathy Collard Miller, author and speaker, says, “When someone does something that makes me irritated, I remember that I’ve most likely done the same kind of irritating thing to someone else. God’s grace displays His patience toward me and I don’t deserve that. Though someone else doesn’t deserve grace and understanding, I can give it because God has given it to me.”
A few words of wisdom from Dr. Bill Graybill, pastor and Christian life coach:
1. Longsuffering is a choice to be made. You have a split second to make that choice when tempted to blow up. Learn to see that choice, make it and you will see a transformation over time.
2. Longsuffering is a habit to be formed. By practicing longsuffering during challenging events you will create a new habit and with that new habit in place longsuffering will become a natural response to life.
3. Believe that you can be longsuffering. You are made in the image of God and he is longsuffering. By believing that you can become longsuffering by becoming more like Christ you will short-circuit failure.
Golden nuggets from Beverly “Bev” Floyd, corporate trainer and performance consultant:
1. Read the Book of James (it’s five easy chapters) and pray on all God’s promises to grant wisdom, peace, patient endurance, faith, healing and protection.
2. Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your soul. (Jer 6:16)
3. Find the “bless in the mess” – remember God’s plans for you are good (Jer 29:11-14). Consider what good can result of the trial and focus on that as your “outcome goal.”
4. Be solutions-focused; what must happen within the next 1-3 days to let you know you are taking a step in the right direction? Then just do it! Take that step (faith without works is dead – James 2:14).
5. Serve others – not only will you take the stress off yourself, but often your answer will come while you are encouraging someone else.
6. Ask for advice/help. There’s nothing new under the sun (Ecc 1:9-11; 3:15) – that means someone else has been there, done that and is probably wearing the T-Shirt! Go find that person, read that book, listen to that sermon and embrace their lessons learned.
7. Be a gracious receiver. Is God bringing someone into the picture to bless you? Remove the barriers (like pride, embarrassment, fear) that are preventing you from receiving graciously. Just thank them, praise God and receive it!
Last but not least, Mark Roth, writer and book seller, lets us in on the secret to being more longsuffering. The above tips are all strategies–here comes the secret: “To be more longsuffering, I must allow the Holy Spirit to produce this fruit in my life.
1. Purposefully and consciously yield to the work of God’s Spirit, living in obedience to His expressed will as found in the teachings of the Scriptures.
2. Purify myself as I need it, usually daily, with the washing of water by the Word. Love with a pure heart. Abandon my natural sensual lifestyle.
3. Ask God for it. Then accept and flourish in the tests of faith that He will send.”
Indeed, allowing Yahweh to develop the Christ-like character of longsuffering in you is the ultimate secret and key! Remember, “longsuffering” is one quality of the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and this fruit can be developed fully only by God (Galatians 5:22-23). We can try as hard we can and get some results by our self-efforts, but will longsuffering last “long,” and last under even the toughest circumstances?
Jesus said, “Remain in me, and I in you. As the branch can’t bear fruit by itself, unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you, unless you remain in me. I am the vine. You are the branches. He who remains in me, and I in him, the same bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5, WEB)
Jesus, who is the exact image of God (Colossians 1:15), will develop the fruit of longsuffering in us as long as we remain in him. If you wish to have the ability to patiently endure your difficult circumstances, then embrace God and He’ll bless you with the longsuffering you need to conquer all darkness!
write by Allison Leigh Downey