FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT CHALLENGE
In Galatians 5:16, the word of God tells us to walk in the Spirit so that we do not fulfill the lust of the flesh. In a couple of verses further down, we learn that the fruit of the Spirit is; Love, Joy, Peace, Long-Suffering, Gentleness, Goodness, Faith, Meekness, and Temperance ~ Galatians 5:22-23.
When my husband and I was separated for 6 months, I can remember lying in bed one Sunday morning before going to church and the Holy Spirit dropped the word “long suffering” into my spirit. I began to research it and the Lord was giving me revelation that just like He long suffered for me, I was going to have to long suffer for some things to come to pass in my marriage.
Let’s be real, the word long-suffering is not an attractive word because no one wants to suffer and especially suffer for a long time. As a matter of fact, we try to avoid it at all costs. But the word of God ensures us that one of the ways that we will know Him is through suffering. That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death ~Philippians 3:10. As Christians, we do not get to escape suffering but we do get to draw nearer to God in fellowship through the sufferings. Everyone goes through a season of suffering in some type of way from marriage issues, to health problems, to job security, rebellious children, or a struggling business. When God allows you to go through a test, there is always a testimony on the other side.
Let’s look at Hannah’s experience with long suffering…
Hannah was married to a man named Elkanah, who also had another wife, whose name was Peninnah. Hannah was not able to bare children and the Lord had shut up her womb. However, her husband’s other wife, Peninnah was able to give him both sons and daughters. Hannah was grieved in her spirit that she could not have children and reached a point of desperation.
And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head~ I Samuel 1:11.
Hannah made a vow to God that if He would bless her womb with a son that she would give him back. This was done by her giving Samuel to Eli (Israel’s Chief Priest) and allowing him to be raised up as a Nazirite. Let’s jump down to verse 19.
And they rose up in the morning early, and worshiped before the Lord, and returned, and came to their house to Ramah: and Elkanah knew Hannah his wife; and the Lord remembered her~ I Samuel 1:19.
I literally get chills when I read these verses of scripture! In order for Hannah to get what her heart desired, she had to do some long suffering. Every single day, she had to wake up and see Peninnah’s children which was a constant reminder of her heart desiring something that she wanted but could not have. It was pretty much a slap in the face as she looked upon Penninah who probably laughed her to scorn. So in addition to not being able to conceive she had to go through ridicule from the other wife. Can you imagine that? Lying down with the same man as your adversary who was able to bare children with him but you were not? I’m pretty sure that Hannah’s heart would break daily as she long suffered through this. But her response to her long suffering was not to go back and forth with her adversary. It was not to mistreat the children who were not hers. But it was to worship God through her pain. Hannah didn’t allow her current diagnosis of being barren or Penninah to count herself out for a miracle. After she begin to lay out for God through worship, she was able to lay with her husband and God remembered her!! The word of God says that Elkanah “knew” his wife which simply just means that they were intimate. And Hannah was able to conceive!
Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the Lord~ I Samuel 1:20.
I can remember the season of marriage falling apart. We were constantly bickering at each other. We said some harsh words to each other. We went through a season where one of us checked out of the marriage emotionally, mentally, and physically and then the other did the same. Then we both checked back in. Just like Hannah, I had to work on Me! I had to lay out before the Lord. So, I wrote God a letter and asked Him to give me a new relationship with Him, spent 30 days in His presence, and He began to purge me, change me, and deliver me. Then God begin to remove the scales off of my eyes that allowed me to see my husband through His eyes. And that is when I begin to fight for my marriage through prayers and fasting. I started seeing the hand of God. I started seeing His divine interventions. God changed my heart and I witnessed him change my husband’s heart. It was a long season for us both of suffering with blood, sweat, and tears. But we allowed God to rebuild with Him as our foundation. And from this we were able to birth forgiveness, friendship, a refreshed love, and renewed commitment. I went through a season of long suffering in order to birth out a “Samuel”. God uses me to share my testimony and encourage wives to be keepers of their home and to attend upon the Lord without distraction.
We are all on different assignments so we won’t share the same length of time when it comes to long suffering. We also all may not long suffer in the same area of our marriage. Your long suffering could be your husband managing money incorrectly, making unwise decisions, being more supportive, showing more intimacy, being a more godly priest, or spending more time with you and the kids. We must understand that even our husbands have their own walk with God and we have to be okay with that. (After all don’t forget that God is still long suffering for you in some areas. We have not arrived and we are all a work in progress). When God changes your husband’s heart it will be for HIS glory and not just for you to have a better husband. Or it may not even be your husband that you are long suffering for. You could be long suffering for yourself to become the woman that God has called you to be so the fight is within. It could be that God needs to change some things in you in order to birth a Samuel out of you.
Just like Hannah made a vow to God, I encourage you to make a vow to God to never give up on Him while He’s at work on your behalf. Search your heart and ask the Holy Spirit to help you uphold the vow. Then make the decision that you are going to be a worshiper of God regardless of the long suffering, the ridicule, and the torture. Remember that your suffering is an opportunity for you to fellowship with God. This is how He reveals himself to you so allow Him to do that on a new level. Birth your Samuel and give it back to God!