Monday, August 22, 2005

Life: Bring it on!

The other day, I was at a friend’s house and saw a plaque on their wall. It quoted the verse in Matthew 19 (verse 14) that says, “But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

It was one of those modern, easy-to-read translations of the Bible that it was quoting, however, so it said something like, “Let little children come to me…” whatever.

It intrigued me. It was one of those moments where you take a couple of disparate things that you’ve known for a long time and you put them together all of a sudden and form a new thought.

I looked that verse up in the KJV, and in the footnotes, it confirmed what I’d always believed (and what the newer retranslation implied). That being that the greek word that was translated as “suffer” meant, in this case, “permit or allow”.

That’s nothing new, of course. The connection that happened for me was when I suddenly started thinking about the word, “longsuffering”. Now, I’d always assumed that it meant someone that patiently endured all the suffering, misery, and hardships of life in anticipation of something better in the hereafter. It’s OK to be miserable now, because it’s going to be better after we die.

But if we substitute those meanings, it has another implication to me. Suddenly “longsuffering” becomes, “longpermitting”. It feels to me like a person who humbly accepts whatever life brings, allows it to happen, and responds to it. Their whole life.

I know that I’m probably splitting hairs, here, but having a longpermitting attitude seems to be a bit brighter than a longsuffering one.

Mark Hansen


  1. Isn't it funny how the meaning of words changes over time?

    I dug around for the true meaning of that word back in high school but my interest was spurred on by a Tears For Tears song, Suffer the Children. In their case, suffer really does have a negative connotation.

  2. This really resonates with me.

    It turned the lights on in my brain, as it were, and it has started some wheels turning that will help put some various and sundry things together with your insight, to form a new and precious thought.

    I generally have to let a few days to a week or more go by, to kind of digest this sort of discovery, to find out how it "fits".

    Thank you for posting this, it is really helpful to me.

  3. Thanks for the post! I have done a bit of this sort of thing in my personal studies. I don't share often because I am less than eloquent when speaking. However, one thing I enjoy doing is finding symbolism that may or may not be intended in the text. Such as "wine" being symbolic for "blood" etc. When I run across a passage that uses terms like these I try to figure out a new meaning for S'mee alone. It has been a cool journey. Again, thanks.

  4. I really like your thoughts on this. I had never thought of longsuffering in that way, but it makes sense. Thank you for sharing.



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