Long Suffering Vs. Suffering Long
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance."1
One man, whom I shall call Jerry, was divorced by his wife twenty years ago. She has long since been remarried to another man. But Jerry is still living under the delusion that she will come back to him.
Instead of growing through longsuffering, Jerry is groaning through suffering long ... which is a thief of peace and happiness and has stopped him from getting on with his life (and growing)—and makes this kind of suffering worse than useless.
God's purpose for longsuffering is to help us grow, to learn patience, and become better, healthier, and more peaceful and fulfilled persons.
Suffering long is when we can change our circumstances (or at least our attitude) but keep doing what we've always done and expect different results. But as the old saying goes, "Nothing changes if nothing changes."
Unfortunately, when we are blind to the reality of what we are contributing to the situation we are in and keep hoping for change, too often we do more of the same of what we've been doing all along. And then as we remain in our pain, we play the excuse-game, the rationalization-game, and/or the blame-game; that is, blaming others, God or the devil for our misfortunes and miseries—but fail to take personal responsibility for changing ourselves!
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, in a take-off in the words of another, 'Grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it's me.' Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's name, amen."
1. Galatians 5:22-23 (KJV).