God is patient and longsuffering when it comes to our sins, but impatient over our suffering.
The book of Judges recounts how Israel rejected God repeatedly, and after much patience with their idolatries, would send foreign nations to oppress them, to turn them back to himself. And every time, after chafing under their oppressors’ yokes for years, Israel would cry out to God. Then, filled with pity, despite all their past rebuffs, God would rescue them. But as soon as things were going well again…poof – Israel’s love would evaporate, and they’d be back sleazing with their idols.
You’d think God would have just dumped them. That after so many slaps in the face, he’d say, “Hey, you made your bed, now sleep in it.” But he was patient with their sins and amazingly anxious to end their well-deserved suffering.
So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the Lord, and he became impatient over the misery of Israel. Judges 10.16
Isn’t that incredible? God was “impatient” over their distress. When I’m impatient it’s sinful, but God’s impatience in the above verse is seen by many scholars “as a reference to God’s great mercy and his capacity to be moved by Israel’s misery and repentance” (ESV Study Bible).
If God pitied unfaithful Israel in their affliction, how much more is he moved by the suffering of his blood-bought children. God has a holy impatience with our suffering. He’s not deaf to our cries or unmoved by our sighs, but quick to listen, quick to send grace. He has pity and compassion as vast and deep as the ocean.
What an incredible God – he’s patient with our sins and offenses, but he’s impatient over our misery, and anxious to end it.
photo by giuliagas