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But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. – Galatians 5:22-24
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. – 2 Peter 3:9
Fact # 1: There is a God.
Fact # 2: You’re not God.
Rule # 1 in light of these facts: When in doubt, refer to Fact # 1. Or…When impatient, refer to Facts # 1 & #2.
God is the key to true patience. He models it for us. And he requires it of all of us…unless we have molded for ourselves a false patience. I would call that passivity, denial, or surrender. For patience is not a matter of giving up hope. It’s not a matter of waiting someone out. It’s not a matter of grinding your teeth. Patience is a matter of waiting for God to give the best. It’s a matter of trusting in his goodness. It’s a matter of looking forward with anticipation and humility to what God has in store for you. It is a matter of applied faith. Severely, singularly, wholeheartedly applied faith.
That faith rests on the goodness of God, his righteousness, justice, love, and majestic power. We don’t entrust ourselves to some impotent well-meaning guru who tells us, in effect, “Don’t worry. Be happy.” We don’t entrust our future to a powerful sovereign who does not care what collateral damage might come to us in the outworking of his will and plans. We don’t entrust our lives to someone who is mostly good, greatly powerful, but not reliable nor committed to the cause of true righteousness. Patience is a matter of entrusting ourselves to the God who created us, redeemed us, and called us to an eternal blessing of life and joy.
And there’s the rub. We lose sight of this God. Our faith falters. We don’t keep our eyes on the prize of the upward call of Jesus Christ to glories eternal. Sometimes we just forget. Sometimes the momentary frustrations of life cloud our view of God’s goodness and promises. Sometimes we just don’t care: we see what we want and ignore God in the process of grasping it. We settle for too little. We look away.
There is good news for those who will admit this and repent of such lack of applied faith. God is patient. He is the epitome of patience. Peter reminds us of this as he encourages us to be patient. And his patience is not merely a good vibe of perfect peacefulness toward the world. But Peter tells us that he is “patient toward you.” And his patience toward us is purposeful. He does not wish “that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”
Repentance is the place of perfect peace, joy, and patience. For in repentance is a humility that does not presume to tell God what to do. It is a place of trust that looks to God for good things, as he defines them. It is a place of waiting for God to bring us ultimately to our eternal blessing. God delights in receiving those who come to him in repentance and faith. The Holy Spirit makes that possible, and brings us ever closer to that place of peace and love for which we all must patiently wait.