TO CHEW ON: "But He, being full of compassion,
forgave their iniquity,
And did not destroy them.
Yes, many a time He turned His anger away,
And did not stir up His wrath." Psalm 78:38
If you are a parent, are you a patient one? God, our heavenly Father is. In today's reading, after listing the ways the Israelites tried His patience, in response to which He did punish them, psalmist Asaph tells us He didn't take the ultimate action. He "… did not destroy them."
Because He remembered their frailty: "…that they were but flesh" - Psalm 78:39.
Bible writers talk about God's patience (also called "long-suffering") in other passages. Here are a few that cast light on some aspects of God's patience.
1. Though sometimes in His long-suffering He appears forgetful, sin's consequences do ripple downstream to the third and fourth generations - Number 14:18.
2. He may sometimes defer His judgments "For My name's sake … And for My praise" - Isaiah 48:9. In other words patience is part of His identity and His ways are typically ways of patience - Ezekiel 20:44.
3. His overarching plan calls for the right timing which means His lack of action on those who deserve punishment ("vessels of wrath") is part of His plan to reveal the ultimate "riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy" - Romans 9:22.
4. He intentionally delays judgement so that more people will repent. Peter says He is "…not willing that any should perish" - 2 Peter 3:9.
In a section on God's patience in his Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem touches on the fact that we are to imitate God's patience. Of course this is not news to us as we see patience held up as a virtue in many places: James 1:19; 1 Peter 2:20; Ephesians 4:2 and Galatians 5:22. I like how Grudem pounds in the practical nails of what that patience looks like in us:
"… patience requires a moment-by-moment trust in God to fulfill his promises in our lives at his chosen time. Our confidence that the Lord will soon fulfill his purposes for our good and his glory will enable us to be patient - James 5:8" - Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, p.202 (emphasis added).
Flipped over we could say that our impatience actually speaks volumes about how much we aren't trusting God to be getting it right.
PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for Your patience with me. May my trust in You be deep and strong so that patience will be a natural fruit of my life. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.