I have heard the "love verses" millions of times, but this morning when I read it, this portion of the verse jumped out at me. This is something that I needed to hear. The translations I usually read have the words "longsuffering" or "patient" instead of "suffers long" and for some reason when I read this NKJV version, it spoke to me in a new way. Love suffers. The word suffer is not a pleasant one, it's meaning, of course, is to experience pain, illness, or injury. Love will experience all of that for another, just as Jesus experienced pain and injury for you and me.
However, there is another definition of the word that really cut deep: to submit or be forced to endure
When my husband and I are going through hard times, the paycheck isn't exactly stretching the way we would both want it to and we are feeling stressed, we are feeling a whole different kind of pain. At that moment we are to be KIND to each other. You married folks know how completely easy it is to be kind to your spouse when you don't agree how the paycheck should be spent. Right?!
For my unmarried friends, let me bring up another scenario. Your car runs out of gas on a busy highway and none of your friends or family are answering their phones. You have to walk half a mile and back to put gas in your car. You are not happy. When you finally get back home, ________ (fill in the blank with room mate, boyfriend, mom, ect.) says, "How was your day." You want to lose it and give them a piece of your mind after feeling deserted all afternoon. That is the exact moment you are to be KIND.
These scenarios aren't even THAT bad. Consider what so many of the Christian martyrs went through. That is real suffering. And we can barely get through our cushy little day being kind to each other. What if you were in an arena filled with thousands of people who are cheering for the hungry lions to come and eat you. Think you could be kind to anybody at that point?
Love suffers LONG. It not only endures pain, it will do it for a long time and yet still be kind. That baffles my mind. How can you do that? I am not the expert on this because I am still trying to figure it out myself. I do know that a heart full of Jesus can give you the endurance to suffer long, to love, and be kind. When my husband and I separated and the Lord brought us back together, we had gone through a world of suffering. I felt Jesus put his arms around me and I knew that He would put my life back together. My life isn't perfect and it hasn't been easy over the past couple of years, but I have so much peace about everything. I can sit and enjoy his presence and it doesn't matter where I am or what has happened in my life. That presence is what makes me able to endure any amount of suffering. It is only with His strength that I can look past my suffering and have any ounce of kindness left. I can't argue with a Bible scholar about the truths of the Bible, but I know that my experience with Jesus is true and no one can take that away from me.