The word longsuffering caught my attention. Instantly I thought to myself, "When I pray for the fruit of the Spirit, I yearn for more love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, and self-control, but I've never wanted to suffer let alone pray for longsuffering. Who on earth really prays for that? Does anyone want to endure such pain?"
Of course, I was flooded with a zillion emotions when I remembered my own season of affliction. It's hard to believe that on January 22, 2015, I will be celebrating my four year anniversary of being free from medications that had once held my life hostage. Harsh chemicals that not only robbed me of my career, family, purpose, and health, but stole my mind and cognitive function as my situation spiraled out of control.
I suppose it's when I hit rock bottom and lost everything precious to me that I came to see the only thing that mattered was my faith. When I came to the end of myself to reach the darkest pit of despair, I discovered that all I ever needed was my Heavenly Father.
Today, as I read this verse and the word longsuffering had me thinking hard about my own years of anguish, I learned there are over 2,530 translations of language in the Bible. When I did research to compare one translation with another, it surprised me that not all of the versions used the word longsuffering.
What mystifies me is that a large portion of translations simply eliminated this phrase. Yet I trust with all my heart that God meant for each one of us to practice this fruit of the Spirit just as we do love or joy. While it may be easier said than done, I believe we could grow stronger in our faith if we experienced longsuffering.
Let's face it, if our lives are smooth sailing and without frustrations or trials, we would not have to endure any form of suffering. If we never faced opposition or times of trouble, what is the likelihood that we would depend on God? Better yet, what are the odds that we would not lean on Him had we not endured a season of suffering?
According to Merriam-Webster, longsuffering means to "suffer for a long time without complaining, be patient during difficult times, and to patiently endure lasting offense or hardship." I'm not sure about you, but I admit that I have a challenging time when I experience nonstop adversity; especially a physical, emotional, or financial crisis.
Looking back on my past in which I survived such a harrowing trial that nearly took my life, I'm thankful the Lord helped me to practice longsuffering. Also, I am grateful He powerfully worked behind the scenes to move mountains on my behalf so I eventually regained my health for a fresh start.
If you are currently facing your own season of suffering, my prayer for you is to lean on God as your anchor of hope. May you seek Him as your source of strength through your weakness. Trust that in the midst of your painful trials, Christ can help grow your faith into an abundant harvest of ripe fruit.