When it’s all said and done . . . we stand. Through pain and through agony. Through loss and through failure. Through every kind of suffering. The Holy Spirit within us holds us up, as He develops the fruit of patience and gentleness. This fruit, above all, matters when we go through suffering.
The old preachers used to say, “You can’t hurry God.” And I believe that. When we’re going through the test of suffering, the most important thing to us is getting past it. We want it to be done. We want to know how long we have to endure the pain. I’m learning the truth of what Isaiah said: “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isa. 40:31). I’m waiting on Him and finding that He is giving me just enough strength to make it one more day.
When the Bible talks about patience (hupomeno) it means “under misfortunes and trials to hold fast to one’s faith in Christ.” When we suffer, the temptation is great to turn away from the things of Christ. But we have the story of Job that encourages us to hold on until the end. We don’t know what God has in store for us, just on the other side of our suffering. “As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy” (James 5:11).
“When we suffer, the temptation is great to turn away from the things of Christ.”
I think of the suffering of Joseph and how he had to patiently endure mistreatment from his brothers. Then he had to endure the false accusation of Potiphar’s wife and unfair imprisonment. And after all of that, just when he probably thought he was going to get out of prison, the chief cupbearer broke his promise and Joseph ended up in prison for two more years. And God elevated him to a place of power because of his obedience. When he had the opportunity to take revenge on his brothers because of what they had done to him, he showed meekness and kindness. He told them to come close. That’s a word of compassion. He said, “I forgive you. You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.” Patient endurance had produced a heart of kindness. He welcomed them and took care of them during the years of famine. That’s the kind of patience the Lord is looking for from us when we are going through our trials.
Gentleness (prautes) means to be mild-spirited and meek. When we’re suffering it can be easy to strike out at others because of our own pain. It can be tempting to give ourselves a pass on being kind and considerate of others because of our own suffering. But the power of the Holy Spirit within us can give us the grace to be kind and tender with those who are around us. That’s especially important for family members who may carry the heavy load of taking care of us. I’ve had to think about this a lot as I have suffered with my cancer over the last year. When I am in pain I need to remember to be gracious and kind. Pain can make you irritable and impatient with the very people who are taking care of you.
One of the most powerful pictures of gentleness is what Jesus did while He hung on a cross in excruciating pain. His enemies stood before him, taunting Him and gambling for His clothes. He spoke no harsh words against them. Instead He said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). He could have called down legions of angels to defend Himself, but He submitted to their torture and prayed for them.
by John Perkins with Karen Waddles
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