I’ve been asking this question since the day I stepped into God’s embrace. Why do You put up with my foolishness, Lord? Why are You so patient with me?
One minute I’m praising, the next minute I’m grumbling. One minute I’m kind to others, the next minute I hurry past someone in need. One minute I vow to honor Him, the next minute I’m seeking glory for myself.
What a mess. Seriously, who could live with a person like that, let alone forgive them, let alone love them?
If you’ve been wondering the same thing, I’m so glad you’re here. A two-part answer is waiting for us in His Word.
First, God doesn’t just show us patience. He is Patience. It’s how He defines Himself.
Proof? His Word tells us that “God is love” (1 John 4:16) and also that “Love is patient” (1 Corinthians 13:4). It’s like that formula we learned in high school math. If A=B and B=C, then A=C. So, God = patience.
He said so Himself. When Moses went up to Mount Sinai, the Lord descended in a cloud (I’m still trying to get my head around what that must have been like) and proclaimed, “I am the Lord God. I am merciful and very patient with my people” (Exodus 34:6 CEV). Again, God = patience.
A more common translation for patience is “slow to anger” (NIV), and the one that best captures the original Hebrew is “longsuffering” (KJV). It’s a combo of two words—arak, meaning “long, patient, slow” and aph, meaning “nostril, nose, face, anger.”
In other words, God waits a very long time before He gets in your face. Literally, that’s what it means. (Do you love this?)
The Lord isn’t patient because we deserve it. He’s patient because it’s who He is. He doesn’t lose patience with those He loves, since patience is His very nature.
I just have to say, WOW. Like, how have I missed this for 30+ years?
A second reason why God is patient with us? His patience is necessary for our salvation.
Peter assures us the Lord “is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). A couple verses later, Peter says it straight out: “our Lord’s patience means salvation” (2 Peter 3:15).
If He wasn’t patient, we would be done for.
But He is patient. Therefore, we are saved.
[Liz pauses here to jump up and down with grateful joy.]
Paul reminds us that he—“the worst of sinners”—was shown mercy, so that “Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life” (1 Timothy 1:16).
God waited for you, beloved. He did.
He is still waiting for others. That’s what compels us to share His love with everyone who crosses our path. Not just friends, family, and neighbors, but also strangers, who step in and out of our lives for a fleeting moment.
How do we do we share His love in 30 seconds or less? Not by preaching or prodding or pleading, but by being patient. Waiting instead of whining. Smiling instead of stewing. Taking our place in line with a calm spirit. Letting someone in need go ahead of us.
Since “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience” (Galatians 5:22 NASB), then patience is God working through us to reach those who are lost (and often don’t know it).
When we are patient in an impatient world, we show people the One who is patient with us.
I hope you’ll Share Your Thoughts below, describing what God’s patience means to you.
Your many comments last week were a huge encouragement to me and to others. Thanks for taking the time and making the effort!
Your grateful sister, Liz