Long-suffering is one of the fruits of the Spirit
We have looked at love, joy, peace, and now we come to long-suffering. It always amazes me that when I am writing in any sort of order or with a defined outline of subjects I want to cover, the Lord sees to it that I have plenty of material. He did not fail this time.
Long-suffering has many meanings to many different people. The dictionary defines long-suffering as “patiently enduring lasting offense or hardship.” Another resource book defines it as, “having or showing patience in spite of troubles, especially those caused by other people (his long-suffering wife).” Synonyms for long-suffering include forbearing, enduring, lenient, tolerant and uncomplaining. Quite a tall order to be long-suffering, huh? It is the fourth fruit listed in our reference to Galatians 5:22, 23, and is often a tough one to swallow, much less live.
I like real-life illustrations and don’t find it wrong to use them. Old, tired, dusty words usually don’t help people as much as things lived out in real life in this day and age. Jesus used parables often in the Bible to teach great truths. A parable, by the way, is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.
While studying the subject of long-suffering, I was reminded vividly of this story that happened to me when I first started dating Ted, through our engagement period, and into the happy days following our wedding at sea aboard a wonderful cruise ship. He had been single for many years and had accumulated a larger-than-life black book. He was a handsome man, tall, dressed well, good vocabulary, traveled throughout his career, loved the outdoors and all water, and was kind. He was a fixer of things and of people. We never met a group of people that someone in that group did not feel Ted was their new best friend. He literally communicated with folks all over the world. That took a little getting used to, on my part. I had never loved any male as much as I loved Ted, and I did not want anything to spoil the relationship.
A few years before I met him, he was visiting his sweet sister, Martha, who lived in Beaumont. Martha had a good friend whose husband had died and needed an escort to a social event. Ted said he wasn’t too keen on the idea, but to please his beloved sister, he agreed to escort the woman for the weekend. Many family members would be present, so he thought that it couldn’t be too bad.
He did feel that the two of them had much in common, but he later told me she smothered him taking care of everyone and everything. She later remarried, but continued to call Ted and to send gifts from time to time. He clearly told her there was no relationship, but the calls kept coming, and I was aware of them. Many happened in my presence, and Ted had a system where the telephone rang and the conversation took place for all to hear. Finally, one day, I felt we should talk about the matter. I told Ted if he didn’t handle it, I would. I felt I had been long-suffering and forbearing enough. He asked her to lunch and invited me to join them. I was working and declined, but he made sure it was a public place and they drove separate cars. Very nicely, he explained that he had met someone and was pursuing a relationship and that she would need to quit calling or sending things in the mail.
I will continue these thoughts in the next column. Long-suffering demands it. Don’t forget next Sunday, March 12, is time change Sunday.
Brenda Cannon Henley can be reached at (409) 781-8788 or at brendacannonhenley [at] yahoo [dot] com.