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The Longsuffering Parent

Weekly Devotionals

The Longsuffering Parent

“You can’t truly understand the meaning of longsuffering until you’ve had to wait on a toddler to do anything. ALL. BY. HIMSELF.”

Galatians 5: 22-23: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

I saw this meme somewhere and thought it was funny; tragically funny. Our home is filled with three youngins: a 6 ½  year old, 5 year old, and a 3 ½ year old. We love being parents and we love our kids, but it doesn’t mean that we always like our kids. In reality, there’s been a lot of temper tantrums, crying, and yelling going on and not just from the kids. I used to think I was a patient person when I had just one child and a little less so with child #2. With our third, I can no longer deny the evidence. I am not a patient father.

Being patient to friends or at work or at church doesn’t really mean that you’re a patient person. It might just mean that you really
care what people think of you so you have a lot of self-control over your anger. Who you are at home is a much better indicator of reality.

The Greek word used in Galatians 5 is often translated as patience, longsuffering, and sometimes forbearance but it literally means long tempered. It’s the opposite of short tempered and having outbursts of anger.

The reality is that when kids misbehave, parents often overreact and throw our own temper tantrum. On some occasions, I am able to catch myself before I get angry and it’s amazing to see how one or two extra acts of patients can soothe the child. I would even go as far as to say that most of the time, it’s my reaction that is the real problem. Bad behavior has a tendency to be contagious and kids pick up habits without even trying.

In the Bible, love is almost never a feeling; it’s a behavior. The Bible says that love suffers long and also love is patient. I usually read verses like this a think that it’s a description of what love is like. But I now think it’s much more direct than that. Being patient = being loving. When I am patient with my kids, I am literally loving them. The sad news is that when I am not being patient with them, when I yell or show anger, I am hating them. Ouch! If love and hate are defined by my actions and not my feelings or intentions, then I have a lot of confessing to do as a parent. That’s the first step to rehab: admit that I am the problem.

I also need to constantly remind myself of the good news and the longsuffering of Jesus towards me. I need to see the suffering servant who gave himself for me, knowing that I’ll often act like a spoiled brat and know-it-all and reject the loving guidance of the Father. May we be filled by the power of this good news so that we may bear the fruit of the Spirit.