Gratitude for God's Longsuffering
This Week's Scripture & Reflection: Psalm 86:14-15
Oftentimes, the notion of an individual's past is spoken of in a negative context, particularly because the past is not known to be a beautiful place. The past is often spoken of in relation to a person's traumatic experiences, poor decisions, and regretful mistakes. Even more so do we, at times, allow the trauma, pain, and regret of a past life outweigh the inherent beauty of it. But what could possibly be beautiful about a past life that was characterized by sorrow, regret, and condemnation? Certainly, out of all the many beauties is the longsuffering of God!
Here in Psalm 86, David celebrates the many, divinely inherent characteristics of God, particularly in verse 15: compassionate, gracious, abundant in mercy and truth, and longsuffering. In the Hebrew, the term longsuffering denotes patience and being slow to anger. If we truly took the time to both consider the infinite extent to which God has been patient and slow to anger with us as individuals throughout all of our many poor decisions, costly mistakes, missed opportunities, and rebellious and disobedient acts, surely we would be left in awe of the fact that we are still alive, and more importantly that God's love for us has never changed through it all!
Not only does God's ability to remain unchanged in His love towards us in the midst of our failures transcend our human understanding, but also the patience He demonstrated and still demonstrates towards us as He seeks to conform sinful human beings such as ourselves into the image of His sinless Son! Certainly gratitude overflows from the depths of our hearts as well as an increased desire to align ourselves more with His will and commands!
This same longsuffering God also calls His children to suffer long with others: both believers and nonbelievers, babes in Christ and the mature in Christ, with everyone! Longsuffering is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (cf. Galatians 5:22-23); it is not an inherent human trait, which means we must yield to the power of the Holy Spirit in order to produce it! As you yield to the Holy Spirit to bear the fruit of longsuffering, may the longsuffering of God in your own life humble you to serve others in love! He continues to suffer long with each one of us; surely we can do so with others by His power!