Monday, July 22, 2013

Long Suffering

The first time I heard about long suffering as a fruit of the spirit was in a Bible study. Of course I was used to my NIV Bible translation: "Now the fruit of the Spirit is love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control." (Galatians 5:22-23)

Patience is hard. Like waiting in line at the grocery store when they're calling for snow. Or worse, waiting at the DMV. Or dealing with a strong willed child. And never, ever pray for patience, cause God will make you wait for something, right? Patience is a virtue.

But then someone with the King James Bible read the verse, and instead of patience, she read the word longsuffering. Longsuffing? I actually said something to the effect of, "Who would want the fruit of longsuffering? That is a terrible fruit!"

Several years later, in 2001, my best friend wrote me a letter where she shared the ways I exhibited the fruits of the Spirit. On patience, she said:

The 4th fruit is Patience - another translation is longsuffering. The definition is a person who has the power to exercise revenge but instead exercises restraint. I have seen you in situations where this definition could have said, 'here is Kelly.' I have been amazed at your ability to 'let things go' when others hurt you. This is truly God's patience manifested in you.

From her letter I was able to look back at my relationship with my mom. A childhood and early adulthood filled with longsuffering. (Also defined as patiently enduring wrongs or difficulties; patient endurance.) While I was in that phase, I didn't realize it was longsuffering. It just seemed like life. But in hindsight, I see it for what it was. Now I am able to see other times of the fruit of longsuffering in my life, and there are several.

What I've noticed is that longsuffering without Jesus produces bitterness in people. But longsuffering with Jesus makes us hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)

I may have felt broken at times, but I am stronger because of my longsuffering. 

I can't imagine ever praying for the fruit of longsuffering in my life. But I am thankful to have come through it with Jesus. While I am hopeful that my fruit of longsuffering has matured, and I don't need to go through more, I am confident that with Jesus I will not lose heart.

When you experience times of longsuffering in your life, I hope you know that Jesus is walking through it with you, and that together you are achieving eternal glory.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen,since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Kelly Combs is a Christian wife, mom, writer and speaker. You can learn about Kelly by visiting her website at

Chatty Kelly

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