Links Daily Devotional

The Purpose Behind God’s Patience

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. (2 Peter 3:9a, NIV)

Whether you play the game competitively or play it for fun, sometimes you have to learn how to wait for the good stuff to kick in.

I have not for many years been the kind of player who must have a warm-up before a round of golf. Sure, I prefer one, and if the round is “for real” I’ll make time to get my feel on the range and chip and putt to see how the greens are playing. But in my more typical rounds, if I need to walk straight to the first tee, I’ll do it. On these days, though, I need to have a patience that lets my game come around over the first several holes. If I do stay patient and work on my ball position and tempo, usually I’m fine by the fourth or fifth hole.

Tour players speak of the same thing, especially when they are playing a course they call “gettable.” They want their share of birdies, because if they don’t get them, they’ll be losing ground to the field. Sometimes, though, the putts don’t fall early or they make an unexpected bogey or two. At such times, they must stay committed to their routines and exercise a patience, knowing they are good at this game and that their birdies will come. Almost always they do, and the final tally keeps the player in the mix.

But what of God and his patience? Is there a purpose in his waiting?

Here, I am speaking specifically of the reason he waits to turn the tide against evil and the tragedies of this world. This is, you know, a common lament of the doubter or the full-fledged unbeliever. Where is God when wickedness happens? they demand to know. Maybe he’s not there at all.

Logically speaking, that could be one explanation. But when we turn to the Scriptures instead, we find in the second letter of Peter some key lines about God’s delayed intervention.

Peter began by resetting the standard framework of chronological time: “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day” (2 Peter 3:8).

Then the apostle explained that God’s “slowness” (or patience) is not to be seen in the way we normally see slowness. His ways are different, we know from Isaiah 55:8-9, and we do not always understand them. This is true with God’s waiting, with specific regard to Christ’s promise to return and make all things new (the context here in Peter’s letter).

But Peter does not leave us without an explanation; he gives us one grand reason for God’s patience—with us and with the world. Here it is: “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Peter 3:9b).

When the world is baring its teeth, in the headlines and in your home, think of God’s mercy. He, and we with him, await the fullness of repentance, until everyone he has ordained to come to belief has turned and given their heart to him.

Jeff Hopper
February 29, 2016
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