One minute we’re thankful, the next minute we’re complaining. One minute we’re kind to others, the next minute we hurry past someone in need. One minute we surrender all to God, the next minute we’re seeking control of our lives.
My salvation is an absolute testimony of this. I spent the first 19-years of my life seeking pleasure in anything and everything but God. You read that right. Nineteen years. I can testify that God was insanely patient with me, enduring my recklessness for redemption.
Why is God so patient with us?
For those of us in Christ, God doesn’t show us patience based on our behavior – patience is who He is. He said so Himself: “I am the Lord God. I am merciful and very patient with my people,” (Exodus 34:6). By offering us His patience, He offers us Himself. We don’t “deserve” patience and we sure can’t earn it. God freely gives us patience because He will never cease to be who He is. And get this: because God’s nature is unchanging, He was and is and always will be patient with us.
Peter, of all people, would know God’s patience: “the Lord is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). A couple of verses later, Peter straight up says, “our Lord’s patience means salvation [or, redemption]” (2 Peter 3:15).
Paul, another brother familiar with the patience of God, adds 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 [or, redemption]” (1 Timothy 1:16). “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that His kindness is intended to turn you from sin?” (Romans 2:4, NLT).
Basically, Peter and Paul are saying the same thing: His patience is necessary for our redemption.
I still need His patience today. In fact, not too long ago, I saw my need for His patience like never before.
The God of Patience
In the fall of 2016, I was in a season of unexpected detours, changes, and losses. More moments of pain and grief than I ever imagined. I often found myself rushing to process everything going on; aching to move forward. Why? It hurt. It was hard. I was tired. Lots of reasons, really. When it came down to it, I wanted to rush the process because somewhere along the way I started to believe the lie that I deserved for God to be impatient with me.
Thankfully, in the middle of that season, a counselor told me to do something that would completely shift my belief in God’s patience: “I want you to do absolutely nothing but remember, God is patient with you.” Nothing but remember?! What kind of paradoxical nonsense?
As usual, my counselor was right. I needed to stop rehearsing my pain and mistakes as a measuring stick for God’s patience and start remembering God for who He said He is. When I finally stopped being stubborn and gave it a try, I met the God of Patience.
He was gentle (Matt. 11:29) and tenderhearted (Eph. 4:32). His grace was lavish (Eph. 1:8). His love was long-suffering (1 Cor. 13:4) and committed to enduring to the very end (Ps. 136). He sat beside me (Eph. 2:6), continually offering His right hand (Ps. 63:8). He was quick to listen (James 1:9) and responded with comfort (2 Cor. 1). He never rushed me (Ps. 103:8) – even when I rushed myself.
Yes; God was – and is – patient with me, indeed.
Showing the World the One Who is Patient With Us
As I reflect on His patience toward me – toward us – I remember He is still patiently waiting for others. This journey of experiencing God’s patience isn’t solely for ourselves or to “learn a lesson.” Our God always has missional purposes in what He’s revealing to us about Himself. When we receive God’s patience, it causes a longing in our hearts to share it with others. It compels us to extend His patience with everyone who crosses our path. We know His patience is imperative not only for our redemption story but for everyone we meet.
However, we can’t give something of God to others that we don’t know ourselves. So, before we begin attempting to give others patience in our own strength after reading this, we ought to ask ourselves: have we truly known God’s patience toward us lately? Where do we see evidence of that? Do we need to repent of any self-reliance, impatience, or unbelief in the way?
Once we have known God’s patience, how can we practically share His patience with others? I don’t think it’s by preaching or arguing, but by simply remaining patient. Waiting instead of rushing. Listening instead of stewing. Taking our place with a calm spirit. Allowing someone to speak without interrupting. Doesn’t God do that for us and so much more? When we are patient in an impatient world, we show the world the One who is patient with us.
I Am Patient With You, Beloved
I invite you now to do absolutely nothing but take a long, deep breath and remember: He is patient with you. He’s patient with you because it’s who He is and because His patience is necessary for your redemption.
And the next time you doubt God’s patience in your shame or feel rushed in your spiritual journey, I pray you’re able to slow down long enough to hear His gentle whisper: I am patient with you, Beloved.