The Fruit of the Spirit that Keeps Producing — Longsuffering

The Fruit of the Spirit that Keeps Producing — Longsuffering

Fruit grows from healthy root systems. The fruit of the spirit also grows from the evidence of God’s deep and often invisible working in our lives. The more liberty we allow the Holy Spirit in and with us, the more fruit He produces through us.

“But the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit within you is divine love in all its varied expressions: joy that overflows, peace that subdues, patience that endures, kindness in action, a life full of virtue, faith that prevails, gentleness of heart, and strength of spirit.”
Galatians 5:22-23 TPT

Most of us skim through this list, mentally highlighting those attributes we find most appealing while overlooking other less desirable traits. We say a loud, “Amen!” to love, joy and peace. We affirm kindness, virtue, faith, and gentleness. Yet, patience and self-control become far more difficult to applaud! Nonetheless, God works in us to produce all the fruit of the Spirit.

Yet, I have personally witnessed patience, or more accurately longsuffering, to bring the greatest transformation in both my life and in the lives of others.

Longsuffering

The Greek word for patience or longsuffering, makrothymia, is associated with mercy and more particularly patience in respect to people. It exhibits self-restraint before proceeding to action. Longsuffering is the quality of a person who is able to avenge himself yet refrains from doing so.

This fruit of the Spirit gives one both forbearance and fortitude. However, God never intends longsuffering to be a putting up with, or a tolerance of, things and circumstances that are evil or destructive. Longsuffering enables one to withstand very difficult circumstances, while having the spirit-led fortitude to bring godly transformation. Often, those changes first begin within us.

“And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”
Hebrews 6:11-12 ESV

Longsuffering partners with the “full assurance of hope” in the driest and hardest places. Through it, we “inherit the promises” of God.

Refines

Paul captures this idea in a beautiful prayer for the Colossians.

“…We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.”
Colossians 1:9-12 NIV

Nothing prepares us for eternal inheritance as well as forbearance, patience, and longsuffering. It’s called longsuffering because it lasts longer than we hope, takes more than we feel we have to give, and requires more than we are humanly capable of offering.

Longsuffering demands moment-by-moment, day-by-day, year-by-year trusting in Someone bigger and stronger than us. Longsuffering leans into God’s Presence and relies on His Spirit. But longsuffering refines us, producing in us a tenderness and mercy we otherwise would never obtain.

Molds

Longsuffering molds in us a reflection of God’s own heart. Because of His forbearance and patience toward us, we inherit the goodness and benefits of His Kingdom in relationship with Him.

“Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?”
Romans 2:4 NIV

While pressed through the sieve of suffering, God softens and molds us into an increased reflection of Himself. This fruit of the Spirit, longsuffering, begins to ripen and sweeten in our lives, bringing nourishment to others.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
Colossians 3:12 NIV

What is your place of longsuffering? Is it robed as a difficult marriage or a sudden loss? Perhaps, it cloaks itself as mental or physical illness? Have you been contending for your faith despite addiction, abuse, abandonment, or rejection? I write this with tears, knowing we all face enduring circumstances that wring us dry of everything but God.

There we find that God is enough. Amazed, we discover the fruit of the Spirit thrives where nothing else could.

Prayer

I glean today’s prayer for you and me from James 5:7-11

“Father, I come to You in the mighty name of Jesus, interceding on behalf of all those walking through a valley of suffering. I ask that the beautiful fruit of the Spirit — patience — would blossom and grow in each of our lives until the Lord’s coming. Just like a farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, we patiently wait for the autumn and spring rains of Your Spirit to drench us, softening us to the core. Enable us to be patient and to stand firm in whatever circumstances immerse us, because Your coming Lord is near. We quench all grumbling and judgment from our hearts and lips. May we become an example of patience in the face of suffering, being counted as blessed as we persevere. Remind us of others in the faith like the prophets and Job who also suffered. Yet You, Lord, brought about great victory and blessing in their lives. Through them we see vivid and beautiful examples of how compassionate and merciful You are and always will be. O Lord may faith rise. May strength be our portion. May forbearance, patience, and longsuffering produce in us heaven’s fruit for earth’s feast. We look beyond our grey today to the glorious tomorrow You have promised. Your love is enough! Your grace is enough! Mold us, Lord! Create in us the full fruit of Your Presence during this season of suffering.
Amen.

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The Unexpected Way to Hope

The Unexpected Way to Hope

We all hold expectations of who we hope to become and how we plan to get there. Often, however, we discover an unexpected way to hope.

Several years ago, on a trip to the west coast, we decided to be a bit adventurous and try a different road which was clearly marked on our map. The wide paved highway gave way to a narrower paved road, which led to a gravel road and finally a logging trail through the mountains. We crossed embedded grated gateways through cattle pastures and discovered herds of wildlife. Eventually, the road led us to our destination but in an unexpected way.

Often life resembles our mountain trail adventure. We never quite knew what was over the next ridge or around the next corner. Would we have to turn around? Would we reach a dead end? We had never travelled this way before. At times, it was terrifying. We simply had to keep going trusting the maker of the map.

“…but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
Romans 5:3-4

Sufferings? Perseverance? Character development? None of these even places in my list of favorite experiences. But all are necessary. They lead us along the unexpected way to hope.

Suffering

As I counsel people of all ages, I hear far too many stories of unthinkable suffering, pain, and loss. I have wept with those who weep and mourned with those who mourn, feeling the depth of their pain. Suffering lashes against the deep roots of faith with a tenacious fierceness.

Often, the rawness of suffering thrusts us into the cavern of disappointment with God. Why didn’t He heal, save, or deliver? Where was He when we needed Him most? Questions swirl relentless and unanswered.

In Unmasking Myths: Is This Prayer?, those who have confronted their circumstances, bypassing disappointment with God, advise:

“God allows us to go through things to strengthen our faith and relationship with Him. Sometimes that thing is a desert; sometimes it is suffering.” (Lowell)

“The Lord is close to all whose hearts are crushed by pain, and he is always ready to restore the repentant one.”
Psalm 34:18 TPT

Perseverance

“Everyone needs to know God answers prayer, and that He is unquestionably good and faithful. Sometimes for reasons we don’t understand, however, we don’t see the answers we hope and believe for. When we fail to teach others about both God’s goodness and faithfulness along with the knowledge that He works beyond our understanding, we may hinder people’s faith … Circumstantial faith lacks the deep roots of knowing God’s goodness and faithfulness even if circumstances never change … Is our practice of prayer based on answers to prayer, or based on the character of God?” (Allison)

Along the unexpected path to hope, we discover God’s unchanging character — His love and absolute faithfulness in, through, and despite circumstances. He strengthens us in our weakness as we develop the perseverance necessary to walk through difficult seasons.

“In the hard places, He shows Himself as our everything.” (Emily)

When we least feel His presence, He draws near.

“The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.”
Psalm 145:18

“One of the first things I heard God say to me was, ‘This was never the life I had for you. I have cried so many tears for you.’ That shook me!” (Shelly)

Hope

Out of perseverance, our character becomes strong and more like His. Then in the most unexpected way hope rises, like the fresh growth of spring after a long, cold winter.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Romans 15:13

I’m not sure where each of you are along the journey of faith toward hope, but I would like to assist you in any way I can. God desires for each of us to “overflow with hope.” Though it may feel impossible today, God holds a better tomorrow for you.

Please forgive me for not following my “normal” blog format. As I prayed not only for these simple writings, but for each of you who would read them, I sensed an urgency in my spirit on your behalf.

First, let’s pray:

“God, You seem silent and distant. My emotions feel raw, and my heart torn open. I ask You to circle me with Your love. Open the eyes of my heart to sense Your Presence again and the ears of my spirit to hear the words You are speaking as I grope along the unexpected way to hope. I give You the brokenness of all I am. May I become increasingly sensitive to Your nearness. I declare my love for You. Show me how to rest waiting for Your love to cocoon me in this season, drawing me toward hope.”

Help On the Way

Second, I would like to offer you one or both of my books on prayer at half price

Enter the code “2023PRAYER” to receive the 50% discount. Then click the “Apply Coupon” button beside it.

Third, if you know someone who may also appreciate these books, please pass on the details. Too many around us have been suffering for too long without hope. Perhaps, this unexpected way will bring fresh and living hope to others.

Blessings!

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Gold and Silver – Refined Through Suffering

Gold & Silver - Refined through Suffering

Gold and silver are among the rarest and most precious metals; both need a refining process to remove impurities, thereby increasing their value. It is through suffering, in the heat and pressure of life, that we are refined for God’s glory.

Every trial, assault, persecution, or difficulty God uses to purify, refine and even promote us to excellence. God does not cause the suffering we face. He is not the evil one, our adversary! He does, however, use “the furnace of affliction” as an instrument to remove impurities from our lives.

I have refined you, but not as silver is refined.
Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering.”
Isaiah 48:10

Refined into usefulness!

Strength Refined

The psalmist David, prophecies of the Lord “announcing the word”, giving a command to release a mighty and victorious army before whom great kings and fierce armies will flee. His description of this army is unlike any other:

“…the wings of my dove are sheathed with silver,
its feathers with shining gold.”
Psalm 68:13

A dove? The symbol we typically relate to peace.

The Lord’s army, refined, purified, sheathed, and shining, going forth with gentle strength fulfilling His command; it is an army equipped and ready to do great exploits for his kingdom.

An army with wings sheathed with silver, and feathers shining with gold.

In this psalm, the army returns sharing the plunder with those who stayed safely home.

Refined ones don’t hoard the spoils of victory. With purity of heart, people are treasured above accolades and wealth. “Dove” people gently and sincerely place genuine value in everyone.

David speaks from his own experience. After defeating the Amalekites, David and his fighting men returned to camp, where those too weary to fight had watched over the supplies. The account tells us the “evil men and troublemakers among David’s followers” (vs 22) were not willing to share the plunder.

David modeled the true warrior as gentle protector:

“…the share of the man who stayed with the supplies
is to be the same as that of him
who went down to the battle.
All will share alike.”
David made this a statute and ordinance
for Israel from that day to this.”
I Samuel 30: 24-25

David had allowed the furnace of suffering to refine him into a golden dove of gentle protection to all.

Reflection Refined

Many people do not consider themselves “leaders”. Truthfully, we all lead. We are continually leading and teaching through our example.

“Lord, the LORD Almighty,
may those who hope in you
not be disgraced because of me;
God of Israel,
may those who seek you
not be put to shame because of me.”
Psalm 69:6

These words pierce my heart like a sharp well-aimed arrow. The truth that my choices may cause someone to stumble is humbling. The more God promotes and increases our sphere of influence, the greater our capacity to cause offense leading people away from, rather than toward, Christ.

Refined into the heart of the Father

The heat and tension of suffering transforms us,

pressing and shaping
turning and bending,
polishing and illuminating…

until we re-present the Father’s heart. It is in suffering that we are formed into His image of love, a love that causes us to lead others well, without disgrace or shame.

Honour Refined

Hidden impurities in our lives will tarnish the “positions of voice” God elevates us to.

The higher the place of honour we are given, the brighter the light shines on us. That exposure will automatically reveal scars, blemishes, blunders, and impure motivations. I am thankful for God’s loving care in allowing suffering to first eliminate what needs removing before elevating us.

“Your righteousness, God, reaches to the heavens,
you who have done such wonderful things.
Who can compare with you, O God?
You have allowed me to suffer much hardship
but you will restore me to life again
…You will restore me to even greater honour…”
Psalm 71:19-21

Beautiful marks of suffering and refining!

The intricate working of The Master Craftsman, every indent and swirl, does not blemish us. He is enhancing and bringing out greater beauty and increasing our worth. Though the process is painful, the result is impeccable perfection.

We may cry, “Enough, God! Stop the pain!” He alone knows the end from the beginning and is making a masterpiece of our lives.

With God suffering always has purpose! When suffering ends, honour comes! In fact, God’s word says greater honour!

With greater purity comes greater beauty that brings Him greater glory.

Glory Refined

There is more to Isaiah’s words:

“For my own sake,
for my own sake, I do this.
How can I let myself be defamed?
I will not yield my glory to another.”
Isaiah 48:11

The ugliest dross in my life is the “self” portions, that tarnish His reflection, contaminate His goodness, pollute His love and hide His glory. God knows that only through the intense fires of suffering will His glory be fully revealed in and through me.

No one else deserves glory; God alone is worthy of glory, honour and praise!

My struggles and suffering have been minor in comparison to others. Nonetheless, it is here I have seen God’s

faithfulness in the fire,
recklessly love in the midst of storm,
strength in battle,
and light in darkness of night.

"I carried you on eagles' wings"

I have experienced God’s presence…

“I carried you on eagles’ wings
and brought you to myself.”
Exodus 19:4

So we say “Yes, Lord! Transform our lives to reflect your image and display your glory. Refine us as warrior doves, molded by your love, positioned for your honour. May we not waste this season of refining, but may we come forth as gold and silver.”

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Read more:

The Lord is my Helper! “I Will Help You!”

Great Trials Matched by Great Joy – James 1 Perspective