What You Can Do in Suffering
Lord, you understand; remember me and care for me. Avenge me on my persecutors. You are long-suffering—do not take me away; think of how I suffer reproach for your sake. Jeremiah 15:15
When Candice first noticed Leon’s cough, she never dreamed that Leon would spend six months in the hospital, too weak to talk on the phone, with Candice unable to visit him. When Leon finally returned home, much suffering was behind him but there was still a long journey of recovery ahead of him.
The old term “long-suffering” in scripture means to patiently endure lasting hardship. Enduring sustained hardship brings periods of anguish. The prophet, Habakkuk in the Bible, cried out to God as he witnessed the Babylonians punishing Israel, “How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, ‘Violence!’ but you do not save?” (Habakkuk 1:2).
Most times that “long-suffering” is used in scripture it refers to God’s patience with people who rebel against Him. God may be exceptionally patient, but He is not ignoring evil. The Apostle Paul said that God’s long-suffering is our salvation! (2 Peter 3:15) Were He not patient with us, we would be destroyed by the suffering we inflict on ourselves and one another.
Suffering a long illness isn’t punishment for sin, but neither is lack of immediate relief a mark of God’s callousness. When we bear one another’s sorrows with long-suffering, we practice God’s own patience, trusting in His salvation. Pray like Habakkuk did, “Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy” (Habakkuk 3:2).
Resource reading: 2 Peter 3:8-9