Discernment. The dictionary included this phrase in one of its definitions: to gain “spiritual guidance and understanding.” Goodness, this has been a week for discernment. Thoughts, opinions, posts, devotions, sermons and IG reflections abound. And I have read many that have been encouraging, practical and even wise. I, too, have been seeking the Lord’s guidance and understanding during these unsettled days. I want to have the right balance and proper perspective. Even more, I am looking for God to use this time for a specific purpose – not only in our country, in our homes and churches but in my personal life as well.
I am looking for lessons and take-aways. One that particularly hit me these past couple days has been the need for longsuffering. Or patience. It is a fruit of the spirit and, as I have discussed in previous posts, I want to grow (and bloom) the fruits in my life this year. When I think of the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit in our lives, I often focus on the first three: love, joy and peace. But longsuffering is there too – and needs to be growing and increasingly evident in the life of a believer as the first three. We are to be people who are patient with one another.
I recently read the following description of patience in a believer: shows calmness in stressful situations…is not easily annoyed, agitated or intolerant. Oh my, but these last days have called for not only calmness but more tolerance for others. Each of us needs discernment -and wisdom. We all are trying to digest the facts, apply our reasoning and then trying to make good choices and the best decisions. But my decisions may or may not be exactly like those of my neighbor, my co-worker, the person I share a pew with at church or anybody else. How quickly we can judge, criticize and even condemn those who make different choices. And that critical spirit quickly leads to annoyance and irritability. Even anger.
These past days have put a spotlight on my need for greater patience. For more understanding and a willingness to try and understand someone else’s situation or choice. I often have no idea what led to their decision. Perhaps their choice is even better than my own?! I want to be less quick to assume and to be judgemental. Lesson number one from these troubling Coronavirus days: Lord, deepen my longsuffering. Forgive my critical spirit.