May Publisher’s LETTER
The fruit of the Spirit: “long-suffering”
When we decided to use “fruits of the Spirit” for our themes this year, they sounded so joyful and pleasant! It wasn’t until a friend asked when we would address topics such as mental illness in the Christian community that I began to think more about how and why we struggle.
It was then that “long-suffering” came to mind: “Bearing injuries or provocation for a long time; patient; not easily provoked.” The range of definitions vary, but long-suffering in the Bible often just means “suffering long.”
One of the most common questions in the church today is why God allows suffering. Not many people have great answers to that age-old question. But we do know this, suffering is common from Biblical days and suffering is common today.
I’ve had seasons of suffering, starting long ago in my family of origin. My father was an alcoholic and was hospitalized twice for mental breakdowns when I was a child. The stories are endless and dramatic as to how that played out in our family of seven. Once my parents finally divorced, he went on to marry nine times.
As a wife and parent of now-adult children, we’ve had seasons when I literally wondered how I’d make it. There are few things better than raising children, but with it comes heartache. This world can be a brutal place to raise up a family. The attacks from the enemy on Christian families are unfortunately quite vicious.
Yet in other seasons, self-inflicted suffering from unwise decisions wreaked havoc in many areas of my life. Years of unhealthy relationships and hunger for a sense of significance led me down many a path of destruction. Looking back, I could have avoided so much pain.
I’ll admit to a few pity parties! Yet in recent years, I’ve come to accept seasons of hardship from a more productive lens. Looking back, God was kind and tender in bringing me through those hard places. Once I finally surrendered my life to him, I’d find myself in the quietness of my home crying out to Him. Sometimes on my knees, other times curled up in my prayer chair with a big cup of coffee, covered in journals, pens and my Bible. Oh, those precious moments.
There are things I’d do differently if I had it to do all over again. But I don’t, so I can’t. Accepting what is and where I’ve been is part of trusting God. Romans 8:28 says, “All things work together for good for those who love the Lord.” For that promise, I’m so thankful!
We hope you enjoy these stories. There are some tough topics within, but we know there are some tough struggles for many. As the Body of Christ, we are called to encourage one another and bear one another’s burdens. Get in a good church where you can find community. Speak Scripture into your life. Seek council from a therapist or pastor. Pray for Godly friends who are rich in wisdom. Position yourself for victory by being around those who are victorious.
Why is “long-suffering” a fruit of the Spirit? Perhaps because it brings us to our knees in surrender to a loving God who has a plan for our life.
For it is there we bear the fruit of the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ.