“Even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. …” (Isaiah 40:30+31a/NIV).
Actually I find it more challenging to write about verse 7 of 1 Corinthians 13 than considering the previous verses. The reason is the word “all things”. This sounds so absolute and perfect.
If Paul had written love “beareth many things” this would have sounded far more motivational to me: Stay calm! You may be able to cope with some situations you would not even have thought you might be able to handle.
Love (or ‘charity’) “beareth many things” would allow me to look back and say: Yes I have had a number of unpleasant experiences in my life, yet this did not totally quench an attitude of considering and caring for others.
Yet Paul says: Love “beareth all things”. Would it be wise to be overly confident and say: “There is nothing I cannot handle!”?
When you are young you are full of energy. Later in life at some stage even a couple of stairs can become a real challenge. As you are getting older you become more aware of personal limitations.
Why does Paul speak in such a manner: Love “beareth all things”? Is he trying to point us to our failures in remaining full of love? Or perhaps is he telling us that only God is capable of such love? It is quite likely that Paul wanted to emphasise both of these ideas.
Some were aiming at spiritual gifts or perhaps prominent positions within the church. Paul encourages them to long for the “best gifts”. Yet he says he wants to show them an even better way. (Cf. 1 Corinthians 12:31) Then he embarks on chapter 13 which is his great chapter on Christian love.
Paul is setting up goals for Christian living. A goal that already has been reached ceases to be a goal.
You may have been able to bear many things and remain loving. Yet there remain many difficulties you have never experienced so far and you do not know how really you would react.
It is good to think about the love of God. As we gratefully think about His love and about all the love we have experienced in our lives our soul kind of relaxes and straightens out to be more disposed to remain loving.
Another way is to humbly pray to God for his help:
“Lord God, I come before you. You know me better than I can know myself. You know about all my limitations. You know what situations might drive me into despair or into utter selfishness. I confess I am falling short. I am not even aware of how often I have failed to love my neighbour as your word commands me to. Please forgive me. Please guide me and coach me to become the kind of person you have intended me to be! I pray, keeping in mind that Jesus has carried my sins on that cross at Calvary. Amen.”