Friday, December 4, 2009

Prayer for Longsuffering, Part X of X

Colossians 1:11-12
"Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light."

God's Infinite Patience and Faithfulness

Meditate frequently upon the patience of God. What infinite patience He exercises toward us! He bears far more from us than we can possibly bear from Him. He bears with our sins whereas we bear only His chastisement, and sin is infinitely more opposite to His nature than suffering is to ours. If He is so long-suffering with our innumerable offenses, how inexcusable it is for us to fret and murmur at the least correction from His hand! Meditating on the faithfulness of God helps us to bear trials with more fortitude. There is no condition which needs more promises and there is none which has so many promises attending it as suffering and persecution. God has promised support under it Psalm 55:22, His presence in it Isa. 43:2, deliverance from it (1 Corinthians 10:13). He is faithful to His Word. Ponder His wisdom and goodness and you will find sufficient reason to acquiesce to His providences. If afflictions came by blind chance, we might indeed bemoan our hard fate; but since they are appointed by our omniscient and loving Father, they must be for our gain.

The more we set our hearts and hopes on creature enjoyments, the more bitter is our disappointment when they fail us or are taken away. Jonah was 'exceeding glad' for the gourd which the Lord prepared to shade and shelter him (Jonah 4:6), but he was 'angry, even unto death' (Jonah 4:9) when it withered away. This is recorded for our warning! If you immoderately value any earthly comfort, you will immoderately chafe at its removal. Pride is another enemy to patience. So is effeminate softness.

We will return to the subject of patience when we reach 2 Thessalonians 3:5. As for 'longsuffering', the term defines itself, signifying a prolongation of patience to the end of the trial. Yet in view of the connections in which those terms are found, we may distinguish between them thus: 'patience' looks more to the attitude of the heart Godward while we are being tried; 'longsuffering' respects our attitude toward the instruments which He makes use of in the trial. Thus, 'longsuffering' includes the ideas of being slow to anger with those who persecute or afflict us, meekly bearing for Christ's sake those injuries which His enemies inflict on us, refusing to retaliate when we are oppressed, following the example of our Master 'who, when he was reviled, reviled not again' (1 Peter 2:23).

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