Paul writing to the folks at Colossae says that he and his companions “continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,[e] 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
This is a great section of his letter and it shows life lived under the Spirit of God is also life “lived under” burdens and trial and difficulty. One of the things that we have as Lutherans is the understanding that a “mark of the church” along with Sacraments, preaching, and worship is suffering. So the word for endurance The word translated as endurance is two Greek words stuck together; hypo – meaning “under” and “mone” which means to “abide” or “remain”. It is life under stress that causes a heavy weight to be born and that causes strife and also a sense of the old cliché that “God never gives us more than we can bear but with the issue whatever it is He gives a way out”, so that we can bear it, or endure it. The word translated as patience is makrothymia, two words struck together; makro, meaning long, and thymos meaning passion or anger. So here is the idea of longsuffering and waiting a long time before reacting in anger to something. One comment I saw was that it means a divinely regulated patience that is used by God himself and therefore it is a gift to us and a fruit of the Holy Spirit. There was a great Greek scholar who said that it is the opposite of being “short tempered” and therefore should be called “long tempered”.
So I started looking around and found a little blog entry by someone named P. Lynch in the Christian Daily News. She tells of her brother in law coming back from a conference where one of the speakers had said that “spontaneously flying off the handle is now referred to as Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED). If sudden short-temperedness is now regarded as a mental disorder, then it makes sense that long-temperedness would be a sign of mental well-being. The speaker went on to say that IED is reaching alarming proportions, and I can say that recent personal experience has provided a little anecdotal evidence to support that position.” She went on to tell about a meltdown she witnessed of a classy looking middle aged women who morphed into a foul mouthed harpy at the sight of a man riding a bicycle on the side walk. So now temper tantrums are considered mental illness. I always thought they were a sign of crazy and an unbelievable greed. But now crazy, the demented demand that everything go our way all the time is again reduced to being “ill”.
Since IED to this point has always meant an “Improvised Explosive Device” I am wondering how to deal with this in an organized manner. Watching people flip out over any perceived slight or watching reactions of anger out of all proportion to the reality of what triggers the event should be given an appropriate acronym but I can’t think of one that can be easily managed or pronounced. “Failure to recognize God’s mercy to you while dealing with others unmercifully” is tough. “Missing in actions, God’s overwhelming patience forgotten.” MIAGOPF – I like that but I doubt it will catch on. Seeing a meltdown in action and calling it a Miagopfic exposition would take a lot of explanation.
2 Peter says the day of judgement seems to be delayed because, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” A long tempered God dealing with a short tempered people is mercy in action. We are to order our lives remembering God’s mercy toward us. That too is a gift to those who God qualified for an inheritance bought with the blood of Christ.