Love bears all things … endures all things

15-12-2011 10:12 AM

By-Pope Shenouda III


There are many reasons for endurance, but we shall confine ourselves here on love as a cause for endurance, for love endures all things
A person who loves someone will be ready to endure for him or her, as our father Jacob endured much because of his love for Rachel. He endured her father Laban who changed his wages ten times, and for her sake he endured serving him for long years of which he said, “In the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night, and my sleep departed from my eyes.” (Gen 31: 40) He served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed only a few days to him because of his love for her (Gen 29: 20).

Jonathan also endured much because of his love for David.
He endured the anger of his father King Saul and the hard words of reproach for defending David, to the extent that Saul cast a spear at Jonathan to kill him! (1 Sam 20: 30- 33)

The endurance of the martyrs, the anchorites, the prophets and the apostles due to their love for God is a good example of this type of love
The martyrs endured imprisonment and unbearable torments, and were steadfast in God##s love. They refused to deny Him even unto death. Likewise, the three young men endured being cast into the furnace of fire, and Daniel endured being cast in the lions## den (Da 3: 6)!

For God##s love the monks, hermits and anchorites endured life in the deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth, far from all human comfort, in hard life, forsaking all things.
For God##s love and for spreading His Kingdom the apostles endured all types of labor in preaching, with much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fasting … (2 Cor 6: 4, 5).

Another model of love that endures is the love of the mothers and fathers.
The mother endures the troubles of conception, delivery and nursing, then patience in raising the child and caring for him, for his nourishment, cleanness and health, and for teaching him to speak and bearing his cries and obstinacy till he grows up.

The father likewise endures much to raise his children, bearing much work to provide for his children and cover their needs.

Another example is the love of the soldiers for their country.
For the sake of their country which they love they endure hard exercises and wars, exposure to death or injury, wounds or deformities, or even the loss of their members. The same may apply to policemen, firemen, and rescue men, for all those endure to provide safety.

Love for others and bearing with them is another type of love that endures.
Love bears with the others and forgives them, turns the other cheek, endures offences and does not repay the same. Love does not complain from the offender, nor defame him or keep the offence in mind for long months or years, or seek dignity and honor.

Love that endures is that of the broad and great hearts.
Such is a heart that bears blaming without getting annoyed as Eliphaz the Temanite said, “If one attempts a word with you, will you become weary?” (Job 4: 2) Such a heart can even bear hard words and ridicule.

Endurance however should be without anger, murmuring or displeasure.
It should be with a broad heart and good spirit, seeking dignity or honor, and without boasting.

Some people cannot bear those who do not understand them.
It is the problem of the intelligent with respect to the ignorant or those who are less intelligent. They cannot bear them or continue convincing them, but if they do love them, they would suffer them long as they do with the children.

A heart void of love cannot endure the others.
St. Paul the Apostle says to the Corinthians, “We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections … you also be open.” (2 Cor 6: 11- 13) Let your heart and understanding then be open. Do not get annoyed quickly, for the community encompasses different types of people, and not every one is ideal. Nevertheless we have to love them all, to descend to their level and lift them up to ours. Be patient till they reach a good level of understanding.

Do not say, ##all people are boring##, but deal with them gently and try to correct them.
If you want to have social relations only with the ideal, you will have to search for another world! Someone once said to me, ##I can no more bear with so and so! He is unbearable!## And I said to him, ##How then did God bear with him from the day of his birth? And how did God bear all the others like him since the beginning of creation? Is it not strange?## Another person said to me, ##I cannot bear with so and so, he never holds to his word!## Again I said to him, ##How many times have we given God promises and did not fulfill them! But He was patient towards us.## Remember how many times Pharaoh promised to let the people go if God removes away the plague, but he never fulfilled his promise! And God bore with him and gave him other chances for more promises although He knew that Pharaoh would not fulfill them (Ex 8- 10). Aside from Pharaoh, how many times have we given vows, and though God knows that we would not fulfill them He gave us what we asked for with vows!!

Why then shall we not bear with others as God bears with us?!
How many a time do we offer a false repentance, but God accepts our confession and our repentance, and permits us to partake of the Holy Communion! But we return to our past sins! And God bears with us to encourage us to repent again! How many times did we postpone prayer under the pretext that we have no time! Imagine the dust and ashes say to the CREATOR I have no time to speak to YOU! And more amazing is that God endures, as if saying to His servant, ##Well, when you have time remember Me !!!##

Indeed, we learn lessons from God##s way of dealing with and enduring people.
We should endure the others as God endures us, and in order that He may endure us; for He says, “With the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Mt 7: 2; Mk 4: 24) Also remember how the Lord endured the suffering of the cross, the preceding insults, and the accompanying challenges, when they said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross,” “Save Yourself …” (Mt 27: 40; Mk 15: 30) But the Lord did not com down, bearing ridicule because of His love for us to save us.

We say to Him in the Holy Mass, ##You endured the oppression of the wicked##, but I would like to add, ##and You endured the weakness of the righteous##.
He endured the oppression of the evil people who crucified Him, and endured the weakness of the righteous who fled and left Him, who denied Him, who doubted Him and did not believe except after putting their finger in the print of the nails! On the cross Christ endured all the reproaches and torments, and put on Himself all the sins of the people from the beginning of creation to the end of ages. We ought then to endure the faults of the offenders in love.

If this concerns people, how should be our relationship with God?
Who loves God will not be weary of waiting for the Lord.
A person should not doubt God##s love in case his prayer is not responded, thinking that God has forgotten him. One should wait and do not think that God has delayed, because God acts in the proper time according to His own wisdom. We have the wonderful example of our father Abraham to whom the words of the apostle applies: “(Love) believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” God promised him to have an offspring, but twenty years passed and Sarah did not have a child. However, Abraham continued in hope and belief in the Lord##s promise, till he got a son after 25 years of the Lord##s promise! How beautiful are the words of the Psalms, “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Ps 27) “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I do hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning.” (Ps 130)

Who has little love gets annoyed soon, for he wants to receive immediately what he has asked for, whereas he who has great love endures and suffers trials and hardships.
One##s love should not be shaken if the trial extended or got harder, but ought rather to say, “All things work together for good to those who love God.” (Rom 8: 28) And as St. James the Apostle says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” (Jas 1: 2) Love endures all things in trust without murmuring, and wait patiently till the problem be solved in the proper time which God judges.

One who loves God bears financial hardships, and says with the apostle, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” (Phil 4: 11, 12)
We can practice the words “believes all things” in our relationship with God, to believe all His promises, believe all that is said in the Scripture about His love, and believe His Second Coming to wait for Him.

If we believe in His love, we shall love Him in return. If we believe His words, we shall believe Him. But can we believe whatever the people say?
Even though we love people deeply, we should not believe whatever they say unless they are faithful; for the Lord says about His second coming: “If anyone says to you, ##Look, here is the Christ!## or ##There!## Do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise.” (Mt 24: 23- 24) Remember that Jacob the father of fathers believed his children when they told him that a wild beast had devoured Joseph, but they were deceitful (Gen 37: 31- 35)

Therefore the Lord warned us, saying, “You shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God is testing you …” (Deut 13: 1- 3) It is true that love in natural cases believes all things, but otherwise love should be first for God, and for Him far more than for the others..

Do not believe anything conflicting with God##s words.
We put our hope in God for all things, for, “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.” (Ps 118: 9)
We shall conclude this series next week – God willing.

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