Love Amid Suffering
“Charity [love per Strong’s concordance]suffereth long, and is kind…”1 Cor. 13:4
If you’re like just about everyone, believer in God or not, you’ve probably heard the verses beginning, “Love is patient, love is kind… (1 Cor. 13:4 (NASB),” right? Have you heard, studied, and applied it to your life as it’s translated from the original Hebrew in the King James version? God’s commands to us above all else are to love with all our hearts, and to love others as ourselves (Mt. 22:37-40). But how many of us really understand and put into practice that love is not a word to be tossed around, not a concept to be employed only when we’re in the mood to love someone, and not designed to be conditional such that we only love others who love us and withhold love from those who hurt and offend us in any way? How many of us understand that even when we endure suffering, we are still called to love? The translations that employ, “Love is patient, love is kind,” or some variation of it, to me make loving others sound a little more palatable, rendering love a little more inviting and pretty sounding. But what happens when loving involves suffering? Are we still commanded to love? Dig into the King James translation of this with me.
Per Strong’s, the Greek word translated into patience in other translations also means “is long spirited,” forbearing, “to patiently endure,” and “to suffer long”. But not to just suffer long. “Suffereth” long. The “eth” at the end of this word implies this is an ongoing action. What does love do? It suffers long in an ongoing way, it endures suffering, and even as it perseveres through suffering, IT IS KIND! In other words, when God commands us to love, He is talking about loving in such a way that we are willing to deny ourselves, to die to ourselves, to patiently endure, to go through hard stuff, for our flesh to suffer in being denied, to lay our lives down, to lay down our own wishes, wants and desires for Him and for others, to say no to ourselves and yes to Him so we can love and serve Him and love others in His name, to love even when we don’t want to, even when we don’t think we should have to, AND TO BE KIND in the process of enduring however it is our flesh may suffer in the process!
If you’ve ever heard, “Love is patient, love is kind,” at a wedding, or seen the verse imprinted on a plaque, journal, or gift, or skimmed quickly over the verse in your studies because you figure it’s no big deal, just a beautiful scripture, or settled for looking at it on the surface and not gone any deeper, please don’t miss how the Spirit of God might be moving on your heart right now.
Is there someone, or some people, you are refusing to love because your flesh doesn’t want to? Submit to God and love. In Christ’s name. For the glory of the Lord! He will give you the strength!