Scriptural lessons are typically learned most vividly from personal experience, and with God, His teaching school is always in session. I learned a very practical lesson on what being longsuffering means today.
I work for an accounting firm, and we audit governmental entities. Today – actually for the last two days as well – I had been trying to resolve a problem that the client had created by an incorrect journal entry. The way accounting works is if you mess up one thing, you are guaranteed to mess up something else because all journal entries are two sided. And I was so frustrated that the person who made the entry had done such a bad job, I didn’t even know how to begin to fix the problem they had created, and was upset that they had done such a pitiful job, when they should know better. And since when it rains it pours, I let the flesh have too much of a leash and I began getting upset about how much I perceived was wrong and stressing me out. There are a handful of people I’m forced to be around on a regular basis who complain incessantly; it’s such a drag on my spiritual outlook. I just want to get away from all that negativity, and be around those positive, happy people who uplift my soul and are a joy to be around.
So I began to bemoan my condition about what a horrible problem someone else had created that I had to fix – a thankless job indeed – and I didn’t even know where to begin. I was upset about how people just constantly complain to me and are so ungrateful for their blessings in their life, instead of being happy and content with what God has graciously given unto them. Right when I had reached the end of my proverbial rope, and was ready to just throw in the towel for the day, I had a humbling and astounding thought that shut up my complaining right there – I WONDER HOW JESUS MUST FEEL?
I have one problem that was someone else’s fault that seemed so overwhelming that I didn’t know how to begin to fix, I wonder how must Jesus must feel when He is constantly cleaning up the mistakes and messes that His children make, and then when He sovereignly fixes the problem we still find a reason to think that’s not good enough, not quick enough, etc? When I’m totally drained by ungrateful complainers who are never happy no matter how much they are blessed in their life, I wonder how Jesus must feel, when His children – me utmost among them – are so ungrateful when He meets their every need, and blesses us so abundantly? And when I’m ready to give up, no one talk to me, just leave me alone, and you fix the problem you created yourself, I wonder how Jesus must feel that He never leaves us in the midst of our trial, but instead stoops down to help us in the midst of our sorrow and frustration? I’m so thankful He’ll never throw in the towel and give up in frustation on me or His children.
So I began to praise God for one of His greatest attributes – His “longsufferingness” – and it was readily apparent to me I was not displaying very much of that fruit of the Spirit. If I think it’s difficult to deal with a few family, friends, church members, co-workers, etc, who constantly mess up, complain, and expect me to fix their problems, imagine giving an open door for all of God’s children to complain to You all at one time; for all of God’s children creating problems of their own doing all day long, and then running to You expecting them to be fixed immediately. If I think it’s challenging to lead a handful of sheep, imagine being the Shepherd for the whole flock of God that is too vast for man to number. If my heart is broken over the mistakes others have made, I wonder how Jesus must be grieved over their sin that He died on the cross for. But imagine, He will never turn a deaf ear to our petitions, He will never throw in the towel and leave us to ourselves, but instead He will come in and fix our problems, make intercession for our needs, and yet we oftentimes are ungrateful and unfaithful and find reason to complain about insignificant things, and that what we received wasn’t good enough – that we still deserved something more than that. I wonder how Jesus must feel about all this?
I hope I can forgive freely when others mess up and don’t do what’s right. I hope I’m always willing to help others, even if they never return the favor and help me. I hope I can be longsuffering when others complain and are ungrateful, and point out to them the reasons we should praise God for what we have. I hope I can be more like Jesus, and be longsuffering with those sinners who need a helping hand.