I am not a patient person at times. I'm not talking about "waiting in a long line on a hot day at the local ice cream shop" impatient. I mean losing patience with all of the evil that is able to thrive in this world. As we looked at yesterday, I get frustrated when I see the prosperity of those who rebel against God and do evil to their fellow man. There are times that I feel like Asaph crying out to God in Psalm 74.
"How long will the enemy mock you, O God?
Will the foe revile your name forever?
Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand?
Take it from the folds of your garment and destroy them!"
"Rise up, O God, and defend your cause;
remember how fools mock you all day long."
Do you ever feel that way? "God, just take them down. Do your thing." We want God to defend Himself, and in the end help us as well.
However, God's desire is not to destroy, but to save. As easy as it seems to us to say, "Just be rid of them", that is not God's way. He holds back His right hand because He desires to have all people come to Him. Both Peter and Paul write about this in their letters:
"Bear in mind the Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him." (2 Peter 3:15)
"Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life." (1 Timothy 1:15-16)
Both Peter and Paul understood that God's patience was not to be confused with His ignoring or condoning of our sin. It is instead a reflection of His grace and desire for all to be able to find His salvation.
Something I have to remind myself when I look at this is Paul's reference to himself as "the worst of sinners." When I begin to look at those around me and point the finger and wonder why God hasn't destroyed them all, I have to remind myself that just as He saved me--the worst of sinners--and gave me time to find Him, I need to pray that others find Him too. If God can be patient as He waits for them, may I be patient as well.