Often the word PATIENCE in the Bible is translated “long-suffering”. I have been thinking much about this and the meaning of it. Mostly I have been thinking about 1st Corinthians 13, which most people know as the LOVE chapter of the Bible. It says, “Love is patient”. It is the first sentence in a group of sentences that goes on to describe the amazing qualities of godly LOVE.
It causes me to think of Jesus. I picture Him on the cross, hanging there, wounded, yet full of LOVE, suffering long. It makes me thinks of His grace and how He pursued my rebellious heart to show me His intense, jealous LOVE for me. It reminds me, how, when I sin and grieve Him, He is PATIENT, long-suffering with me until I am willing to let go and trust Him again.
Imagine if all LOVE was willing to suffer long….. How would that change marriages? Families? Friendships?
Apart from Christ it is impossible to truly understand that kind of PATIENT LOVE. For it is not until WE have been LOVED like that, that we can offer it to others. And often, those we are called to LOVE, certainly cause us to suffer. Behind the concept of long-suffering, is a commitment. It is a willingness to stay. It is a promise, a surrender of self. Suffering long in loving CHOOSES to pursue the person that may be acting very unloving and…well, hence the suffering comes. Why would we WANT to do such a thing? Why CHOOSE to LOVE, suffer long, with someone that causes us pain. Why LOVE when it hurts?
And again, I think of the cross. In the world, so many evil things are acted out upon others, venomous words spoken out loud, wounds and hurts created from repeated acts of selfishness. And then, there is Jesus Christ. He is God, was God and yet, became human. He never thought, nor acted out any evil. No unkind words were spoken. No sin existed in Him. He was without any darkness, at all.
Yet, He chose to LOVE….me, us, all men, every person. He chose to SUFFER LONG in our place so that we might know His LOVE. Isn’t that amazing? Can you imagine choosing that? Being willing to say, “Although I am perfect and have done nothing wrong in the sight of God the Father, I want to take on the consequences of YOUR evil, SO that I can LOVE you and you can LOVE ME and LOVE others.
It was this very concept that changed my heart at age 25. The thought of a Holy God, choosing to die on a cross for me, when there was “no darkness in Him AT ALL” (1st John Ch. 1) completely blew my mind! Knowing that Jesus Christ was LOVE and had already been LONG-SUFFERING in His LOVE for me, caused me to want to know the height and depth and breath and length of this very God. His LOVE has been unlike anything I have ever known before. He has LOVED me and LOVED me and LOVED me. No matter what, He stays. He is committed. He has promised He would. He will never leave me. He will SUFFER LONG in His LOVE for me. In return, I pray He will enable me to LOVE in this same way. I ask that He will give me a heart that is willing to STAY, to COMMIT, to PROMISE my LOVE to those around me.
And so…LOVE IS PATIENT.