How long will you bear with me?

Love is patient … (I Cor. 13: 4)

Encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all. (I Thess. 5:14)

Keep loving one another earnestly … (I Peter 4:8)

I have a few friendships that have involved long seasons of enduring. It could be enduring physical suffering. It could be enduring emotional devastation from broken relationships. It could be enduring disillusionment with the Church and Christianity. For most, it’s a combination of some or all of the above. Sometimes, I’ve endured well. Sometimes, I’ve given up. “Really, you should be past this by now!” I read this excerpt today from Shattered Dreams by Larry Crabb, which I also wrote about here.

We Christians are an impatient lot. We insist on gathering grain before it grows. We want to see flowers before spring and fruit before fall. When a brother or sister is going through a tough time, we insist that the Spirit’s work be obvious. Unless they speak of their trials from a spiritual perspective, we tend to apply pressure more than we dispense grace. We rarely belive that life is hidden in the barren tree. Let a friend express his exasperation with a four-letter word, and immediately we’re more concerned with his language than with his agony (oh, how painfully convicting).

No farmer goes to the orchard in winter to pick apples. Christians do it all the time. And when the fruit isn’t there, we walk off in disgust. The good farmer patiently waits with his basket, knowing he will soon fill it with delicious fruit. …

Two unwritten rules eventually surface in our response to one who hurts. First, mourning has a time limit. … At some point, we insist on victory. Second, we think there’s a proper way to mourn. Ugly battles should remain out of sight. … Church is too often a place of pretense and therefore a place without hope. When brokenness is disdained, where the real story is never told, the power of God is not felt. Where brokenness is invited and received with grace, the gospel comes alive with hope.

Crabb’s insight is very convicting to me. I get really angry when I watch other Christians give up on each other and write each other off. I hate it when I see their dispensations of grace expire on each other, and they either walk away or turn against one another. Yet, I do it too. I give up. I turn against. And sometimes, I just walk away. I like the old Kenny Rogers song, “You gotta know when to walk away, know when to run.” But much harder than running away is staying engaged in painful situations. It’s easier to write people off than endure for the long haul with a hope that transcends results I see this week, this month, or this year. Yet, that is the hope to which God calls us–a hope for ourselves, but also a hope for those around us.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. (I Cor. 13:7-8)

7 Responses to How long will you bear with me?

  1. Angela October 29, 2010 at 6:11 pm #

    Yikes! Convicting, especially since I was just telling my husband that I see no fruit in his brother who claims to be a Christian. Thanks for your timely admonishment. 🙂

  2. Alison October 29, 2010 at 10:42 pm #

    I think I need to get that book.

  3. April October 30, 2010 at 5:26 am #

    I think I need that book too!

  4. Bina October 30, 2010 at 4:12 pm #

    Beautiful, beautiful post!

  5. Anonymous October 31, 2010 at 4:25 am #

    Thank you, dear Wendy…

  6. Judy November 1, 2010 at 3:13 am #

    Somehow, this is one Larry Crabb book I've missed.

    LOVE this post!

  7. Anonymous November 2, 2010 at 7:53 pm #

    WOW! Just have lived out an unimaginable suffering with our family! WE are not naturally long suffering and it requires maturity in Christ and His work in us to love someone with a sacrificial spirit. I have seen ALOT of people walk away from us and not even engage in our lives after knowing the depths of despair of our situation. I relinquished friends willingly knowing they wouldn't be able to handle this and never contacted several long time friends b/c I knew they don't look at God and His sovereign the way He has given me grace to do so! I have also been this person and am easily lead to “well this is what you do and this is what I see, what is the problem” kind of response and what He has shown me is that we can sow the seed and encoruage but God is the one who determines the degree of fruitfulness and also when it becomes fruitful! OH what a relief!!