Years ago I was a camp counselor for some rebellious boys. I found it challenging to deal with their behavior. They would mistreat the animals at the petting zoo and occasionally fight among themselves. So I adopted a calm and firm approach to leading them. And although they often exasperated me, I always made sure their physical needs were taken care of.
Even though I had a kind and loving exterior, I often felt on the inside that I was just “putting up with them.” That caused me to prayerfully reflect on how a loving heavenly Father provides for His rebellious children. In telling the story of the Israelites during the exodus, Paul said, “For a time of about forty years [God] put up with their ways in the wilderness” (Acts 13:18). In Greek “put up with” most likely means to patiently provide for people’s needs despite an ungrateful response.
Some people may not react favorably to our efforts to show care and concern. When this happens, it may help to remember that God is patient with us. And He has given us His Spirit to help us respond with love to those who are hard to love or who are ungrateful (Gal. 5:22-23).
Give us Your patience, Lord, for anyone in our lives who is difficult to love.
Whate’er my Father’s hand may choose to send;
I want the love that patiently endures
The wrongs that come from enemy or friend. —Anon.