We are sometimes provoked, bullied, lied to and mistreated without reason, but learning to be longsuffering is a way to overcome it all. In the end it leads to a life that is more Christ-like, and you will also be a more positive influence to the people around you.

By Erica Brotherson

Who desires to be mocked by their piers everyday? Who wishes to reside in a home with parents who constantly abuse them verbally and physically? Who in the history of human existence has ever exclaimed their love for a painful chronic illness? These are questions we can all respond to with the same answer; no one! A common human experience is that sometimes we all encounter people who can be a tad insensitive and irreligious. They seek to create problems, harm and evil against us. In such situations it's improbable for anyone to welcome or tolerate it - but what we do and how we act when we are peeved will prove if we have the fruit of longsuffering or the outgrowth of impatience.

It is true that negative situations are likely to taint ones outlook and that acts of irresponsibility will lead to mistrust. Sometimes at work your boss may abuse you verbally, your peers may take advantage of you because you have dyslexia, and your parents tell you that you will be an underachiever in life and those who call themselves your friend gives you a stone instead of bread in your day of despair and trying time.What is a Christian expected to do in this case? Apostle Paul made a suggestion as led by the Holy Spirit in his notification to the church of Galatia; "So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature" see Galatians 5:16. We must understand that the desires of sinful nature are the things that lead to death, imprisonment, pain, suffering and judgment, not only from man but from the Most High God.

It is our responsibility to turn away rather than retaliate because; "the word of God will make you wiser than your enemies, keep your foot from the path of evil." see Psalm 119:97. It is not for Christians to worry about repaying evil for evil, but it for us to repay evil with good because that's the way God wants us to be. After all nothing else could've atoned for our sins but the blood of Jesus Christ which God freely gave out of His love, longsuffering and patience for this sinful world? God could've done away with the whole world but He spared our forefather Noah because he was upright. See Genesis 6:8. So when we think of our enemies we mustn't plot for their demise or shame because of what they've done to us- "the end of a matter is better than the beginning and patience is better than pride" (Ecclesiastes 7:8) and never assume that God is not watching those who hurt you for; "anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong and there will be no favoritism" (Colossians3:25)

Even though the reality is that we sometimes face difficult situations, the Word of God urges us to respond differently and not to mimic the examples we witness in the world out there. Being longsuffering is reacting uniquely to challenges, overlooking the flaws of your contender and seeing that person the way God sees them. Martin Luther King Jr. is a perfect example of this. He was a man of God and he understood Bible principals especially 'longsuffering'. He never viewed the White Americans as his enemies instead he only 'dreamed' that every race and creed would come together and live in unity. For us to really harness longsuffering in our lives we ought to live more Godly and be as merciful and forgiving as God is. Of all the fruits of the spirit, longsuffering probably stands out as the most difficult fruit to grow because one really has to make a conscientious effort to remain calm in rough conditions.

For some people life is the path which leads to infrequent bouts of happiness and a continuous series of misfortunes all the way. For others so long as the life they build is satisfactory in their minds-eye, everything is alright. But there is a life that we can lead which has been predestined to guarantee every form of goodness we desire. This life is what Apostle Paul dubs 'Life by the Spirit', in his letter to the church of Galatia. What is this 'life by the Spirit', Apostle Paul was referring to? In order to have life by the Spirit we must be prepared to be more like God. When God spoke to Moses and gave Him instructions for Israel, before He gave the law He instructed Moses to tell the whole assembly of Israel "Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am Holy." Leviticus 19:2 The fruit of the Spirit is one's desire to display the characteristics of God in their life. God is spirit and He epitomizes love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meek and temperance -every fruit God wants to be displayed in our lives was also displayed through the life of Jesus Christ on this earth.

Therefore, in order to develop the fruits of the Spirit: longsuffering i.e. another form of patience, it's like turning the other cheek when you've been slapped for no cause. To be longsuffering means to endure provocation without complaint. Longsuffering is not that easy to achieve but when God expects it of us, we know that it can be done. Let us suffer for the sake of our contenders so that one day their lives will be transformed and they will be wiser because we choose to act on the word of God -and we were good to them that were evil to us.

As Christians we have no right to point fingers at those who don't share the same knowledge as us, or those who participate in any of the evils I've mentioned earlier, as we are not better than anyone. Romans 3:23 says that 'For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God'. And although we know this is a fact, let us not use this as an excuse to be belligerent or lazy; rather we should all be meek like Jesus and continue doing good works. So the next time someone harms you - aim to love them until they are embarrassed at your kind gestures. They may not acknowledge what you've done or how you've operated immediately. However I urge that we all be more longsuffering for the sake that it might spare someone else the ordeal, if your offender does not re-offend.

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