I have to admit something today that I’m not very proud of – I’m an impatient person. I want answers, results, and service promptly; I don’t handle complications or delays very well because I am a product of the fast-food, WiFi, downloadable generation and waiting is a tough thing for me. I wish more people my age longed to be patient, to be someone who suffers long, to be Godly in our ability to endure. Not that long ago, I ran across this quote from Arnold Glasow, a 20th-century humorist who wrote for Readers Digest, The Wall Street Journal, and Forbes. He said:
The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it.
I really appreciate the truth of that thought. Patience is undervalued, overlooked, and seriously underappreciated in our world. Ironically, it’s one of the qualities God possesses abundantly. Perhaps, in our efforts to remove God from the world, His qualities have been abandoned as well.
Thankfully, patience is one of God’s greatest attributes even when it’s not one of ours. We recently studied here about God’s love and justice and now, I feel it is prudent to discuss His patience. You could say He is the very definition of patience and longsuffering and you’d still be making an understatement. Psalm 86:15, 103:8 and 145:8 all say “the Lord is slow to anger.” That patience, in the face of our weakness, is truly divine and it’s truly beyond explanation when you consider 2 Peter 3:9 which says:
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
I feel we must ask these questions in light of that verse. Why is He so patient with us? What have we done to deserve any semblance of patience from our Creator when it’s so easy for us to sin, worship idols, mock His Holy name, and complain because we actually believe He asks too much? I am constantly amazed that God, through all of our humanity and the things that come with it, remains patient with us.
As a parent of three young children, I find myself constantly growing impatient with them upon the umpteenth explanation of something simple. The expectations I put upon them to wash their hands, do their homework, clean their rooms, and listen carefully pale in importance to the commands God gives us to love our neighbors, love the Church, and love Him. Yet, we still find excuses (like our children) to do what we want, when we want, in hopes of not getting caught. Much like our children, we should know better, we do know better, we just choose to ignore what we know is right.
And all the while, God is patient. Giving us opportunity after opportunity to repent, return, and grow.
I urge you to not mistake God’s patience as an existential get-out-of-jail-free-card. There will be an end to His longsuffering. The very next verse following 2 Peter 3:9 extolling God’s patience warns about the end of it on the Day of Judgment. It says in 2 Peter 3:10:
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.
Much like any parent, God is teaching us to be patient by being patient Himself. He expects us to learn, grow, and bear with one another. He expects us to wait on His timing and His Will. He wants us to see the imperfections in others and patiently work to teach them, shape them, and mold them in the right way of His Word. He is teaching us what patience looks like because we are Him impatient, imprudent, petulant children and He is our patient, forgiving Father.
I pray that God’s patience will work on you today. I pray you’ll take this opportunity to become His or return to Him. I pray His patience will work on you like it did the Israelites, the Apostles, and millions of others who heard His message before us. God’s patience is divine, worthy of praise and adoration, but ultimately, something that will end. Don’t let your life be wasted because you were too foolish to submit to God’s plan, God’s wishes, and God’s purpose for you.
He is waiting today, but tomorrow, His patience may run out.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright (c) 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.