2013-09-26 - Understand Longsuffering
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord does not delay and is not tardy or slow about what He promises, according to some peoples conception of slowness, but He is long-suffering (extraordinarily patient) toward you, not desiring that any should perish, but that all should turn to repentance. (AMP)
Longsuffering is an old English word that doesn't get much press today and yet is very clear in its meaning. The key to longsuffering is not simply dealing with some issue for an extended period of time, but dealing with it with at least equal patience.
long-suf·fer·ing [lawng-suhf-er-ing, -suhf-ring, long-]
Do you know someone who never lets his or her feathers get ruffled? They generally don't speak up about something, if they speak about it at all, until well past the time most of us would have been bothered enough to complain. The Lord is our example for this kind of patience that we are suppose to make part of our character. A few years ago I had a weekly standing meeting with a group of men from another company. Over time that meeting disbanded but several of these gentlemen had become at least respected professional friends. I left the meeting alert in my calendar as a reminder pray for them once a week at or as close to the time we met as possible.
Lately that regular prayer appointment has been pushed back into the day, a little at first and a little further as time has progressed. Last week I think it was missed altogether. Today I felt a tugging at my heart as the time passed and the alert sat on my screen. It got to more than an hour past lunch and I heard in my mind - Pray for them now. It was not harsh or cold but firm. I stopped and and prayed for the salvation of the group and their families.
The northern kingdom in the eighth century B.C. slowly turned from the Lord at first, then more and more God was removed from the culture and what we would call the public square. False gods were brought into the nation to the point of infant sacrifice being included. God sent warnings in the form of prophets. He removed His blessings and protection over time in an effort to call then back to reliance and relationship. The feeling was that they would overcome these problems and life would go on as it had for many years. The warnings went unheeded and eventually the northern kingdom was destroyed as much from within as by the neighboring nations invaded.
Did God lead the attacks? Where they His fault? He had removed the protection that allowed the attacks, but did not inspire the attacks. God had called to the people to return to Him over and over for decades. In the end their open hostility toward the Lord and the things of God lead to their downfall. The attacks were planned and led by ungodly men. God can use bad things that happen in the affairs of men to serve His purposes.
The point is this - it is easy to mistake the extended patience of God in the face of provocation including many forms of willful disobedience in any form from an individual to a nation or culture. I was not giving my prayer appointment the priority it deserved and I knew it. God called me back to honor it appropriately. I'm going to challenge readers to pray for ourselves, our families and friends, and our nation, not for what we want but what God wants. We have no idea what God's plans are. We do know His desire is to bless His children. We must understand that this is not a one week commitment. I don't care if you are from America, or Indonesia, or France, etc. We need to be longsuffering in prayer - not necessarily in hours, but in patience and consistency. Please join me.
All verses are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise noted.