Long-suffering, both an adjective and a noun, has fallen out of use. When the KJV used it in 1611, it was a fairly new term, having arisen around 1520-30. Maybe the synonym “patience” covers what was lost by it. Maybe not.
In the age of Facebook, where ever is heard every discouraging word and moan, long-suffering does not sit well. Collins defines the adjective as “enduring pain, unhappiness, etc, without complaint.” MacMillan says it means “patient, despite having problems or being badly treated over a long period of time” and gives this archaic example phrase, “his long-suffering wife.”
Nobody accepts suffering today. Isn’t that true? To say “nobody” is obviously an exaggeration, but please permit the hyperbole. This generation thinks suffering is just plain wrong. It’s something that has to be eradicated, like, say, the wearing of fur coats or the use of fossil fuels. And to be long-suffering? That’s just sick.
§ More about long-suffering? On a recent Portuguese-language meditation, I wrote about forgiveness among brethren, based on Colossians 3.13. Title: No space for escape. If we are to forgive as the Lord forgave us, there’s no wiggle room out of that.
Can’t say about Americans, but Brazilians often tend to stress the distance we as humans are from the perfect Lord. How we’re so prone to stumble and sin. How Christ was perfect (not in the biblical, but in the “sinless” sense in which the term is used today). But Scripture repeatedly requires that we be like him. And we use the “nobody’s perfect” excuse to weasel out of the imitation of Christ.
§ There’s no way to verify it, because the Sacred Text doesn’t say yea or nay (so maybe this thought shouldn’t see the light of day), but one wonders sometimes if the Lord called Saul because the Twelve weren’t getting the job done. The Lord is not long-suffering when it comes to getting out the saving word to the world. He wants it done já-já, right away.
§ Carnaval (this is the correct spelling for the holiday) comes late this year, in March yet, but here in Brazil it will kick off this weekend and stoke the passions through Tuesday of next week. This is a good time not to have TV. A good time to stay at home. Or, as some congregations do, to host a spiritual activity like a camp session. Our town gets mostly quiet during Carnaval and other holidays because it’s a work place and nobody is actually from here, so people usually leave town for other destinations.
One year, I was asked to speak at a congregational event during Carnaval in, of all places, Rio de Janeiro. That is exactly the place you don’t want to be at this time of year. But some brothers picked me up at the airport and took care of me during my time there. I’m not a fan of Rio at any time of year, so I was glad to let the brethren there coordinate my movements.
§ Last Sunday, our new house congregation decided to send February’s offerings to help 17-year-old Goodwin from Zambia save his eyesight. He’s going to India for surgery in a few days. It’s not a huge amount, since we are small, having just begun in January in our home. (That gives a new meaning to home congregation.) But a little here and there from you and me and more makes a big difference. You might consider it as well.
§ Yes, our budget procedure may well be unique. At the end of each month, we decide where to send that month’s entire offering. We have no church bank account, and here it is not wise to pass funds through a private individual’s account. So we keep the funds at home. Also, we have no building and no plans to build, so we can use the entire amount for missions and benevolence. When we have local needs, those will be provided for as well. Last month we helped a brother from the Esplanada congregation. We may decide to promote a Bible course or distribute copies of Scripture. But there’s a certain satisfaction in sharing our entire offering with others, rather than for upkeep or savings.
§ Some good brother may feel threatened by the previous paragraph. The intent certainly is not to threaten or weaken anyone’s faith. Some have said this is the only way you can work (on both sides of the fence!). In response to a concerned question, nearly a month ago we wrote, in Portuguese, against that Pharisaic position. May have to translate that response, in order to clarify our approach. We wouldn’t want anyone to think we’re setting up new laws for God’s church. There are enough of those folk spouting off in the church already.