By Kyleen Baptiste
Many of us know the Bible verse which talks about the “fruit of the spirit” (Galatians 5:22). There’s even lots of cute songs about it. Lately, I’ve been reflecting on one fruit in particular. In most of our translations it reads “patience.” In another translation, it’s referred to as “long-suffering”, and it’s that visual for us to consider.
We don’t hear much about this concept any more in our culture. Quite the opposite, actually. We’re in a world now that teaches against this idea. Just in the last month, messages I’ve seen floating around read, “Have it your way” , “Any craving, any hour”, “Choose happy”. I’m dating myself, but there’s even a country song that says, “If it don’t come easy, let it go”. Women, (and I’m speaking to myself, too) if there’s ever a cause to rebel against in today’s culture, it’s this.
When I think about where I’ve seen lives transformed in a way that can only be from Jesus, including my own, long-suffering (Biblical patience) has been a part of every story.
I think of a man named Steve Saint, whose parents were missionaries in the Amazon jungles. When Steve was five, one of the villagers spear-killed his Dad. Understandably, he and his Mom moved. Steve’s adult sister, Rachel Saint, felt God telling her to go back, so she moved back to the same jungles to live among the Waodani Indians, continuing the mission of loving them even though they murdered her brother.
Later, 10 year-old Steve moved with his sister and grew up among the Waodani people. Can we park here for a second to consider this: Steve’s mom allowed her very young son to go live with the very people who murdered her husband. What?! Let that sink in. I pray for courageous faith like hers when God invites my children to do something unfamiliar.
In interviews, Steve talked about how the “right and responsibility” to avenge any wrong is expected with the Waodani, and it didn’t make sense to them how, or why, this family would live in peace with them. This kind of love was so foreign to them, it wasn’t long before Mincaye, the man who murdered Steve’s dad, came to trust in Jesus because Steve had been willing to go back. Take the risk of long-suffering. Even more, they’ve shared life together traveling around the world sharing their story, and Mincaye’s tender heart is evidence of what God can do when we’re willing to love when it’s hard.
And then I think about where I’ve seen this closer to home. I watched my mom show this kind of patient grace to her father, who’d severely abused her as a child. Her ability to forgive Him and live with a kindness toward him, when it didn’t make sense, eventually led to him finding a relationship with Jesus. In my young adult life, I recall asking her why in the world she would continue to speak to him. Her answer? Jesus. (This example isn't promoting contact with abusers in any way. In almost all cases, contact wouldn't be healthy or appropriate. Her decision to do this came through much prayer, godly counsel, and deliberate caution.)
I watched my parents experience deep rejection and hurt from some people within our church family, only to continue doing what God called them to do, love deeply and shepherd. How could my parents, week after week, show up and love with a sincerity that held no grudges? That didn’t seek to defend themselves against lies? It’s counter-culture. Their answer? Always, Jesus. Through their willingness to love when it was hard, God restored relationships and changed hearts.
I think about my own life and how God brought our blended family through seasons of deeply difficult hurt to places of freedom. I recall being on my face in the early years, praying for Him to show me how to do this blended family life.
If long-suffering isn’t done with love, it falls short. We’ll find ourselves bitter and spiritually stuck. In the Amplified Bible, it explains patience as “not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting” (Galatians 5:22). To communicate God’s love, our patience has to be pure, with a kingdom understanding that God is working in the waiting.
In a recent blog post, my stepdaughter shared, “I had such a hard time knowing how to love my stepmom. She found joy in my life, and at the time, I couldn’t. Even though my walls were up, she loved me. She kept patiently loving me. Because of that, I understand the love of God in a deeper way.” Only Jesus. God can do His greatest work through us when we’re willing to trade off easy for holy.
What if we challenge ourselves over the next season of our lives to not chase “happy” in the world’s terms? Let’s ask God to show us how to be women who display the stunning strength of patient love. Show a little more kindness to that unlovable coworker. Give the marriage one more try. Continue to pray for the wayward child. Make the call to that person God keeps bringing to mind.
Let’s ask Him to show us how to love when it doesn’t come easy, when it doesn’t make sense. It’s in this place, loving when it’s hard, where others can see a tender, patient God who longs for them and will go to any lengths to show them.
Video stories of Steve Saint, and his move “End of the Spear”
Kyleen is a mom to four amazing children and one super spoiled Great Dane in her blended family. She gained her three oldest “covenant” kids through marriage to her awesome husband, and they have one little girl together. Kyleen was a child life therapist for over 10 years and is now a Tippi Toes® Franchise owner, founder of Foreign Soil Ministries, and passionate about helping blended families thrive in light of redemption. She provides coaching calls and online support to help families navigate the tricky stuff in a godly way. A Kentucky address with a Florida born heart, her fav’s are Florida State football, traveling, as well as being home with the roar of her kids and company. Find her on Facebook and Instagram.