The Impatience of God

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

Comments

  1. says

    Wow! that is an awesome verse!
    What a thought, that God actually is ready to get us through the trials and suffering that we go through. God is not a sadist as some envision Him to be, He is a loving Father! I don’t know many parents who actually like punishing their children, unless there are serious issues and then it’s not love but cruelty. God is our perfect Father and He does all things well, including our discipline.
    I loved the reference in your post about the children of Israel, we are so much like they were. We are so fickle and we struggle with idolatry, especially the idol of self. Praise God that even though we are steeped in sin and continually “go back” to the old ways, God is always there as you said in your post, He’s definitely not deaf to our cries for help and He’s very swift in sending grace to us. What an awesome, and compassionate Father that we have!
    Thanks for getting my Monday off to a great start Mark!
    Blessings
    Ron Reffett

  2. says

    Oh man. I’m tearing up a little bit reading that. This whole past week, I’ve been so blessed to strongly feel the Lord’s pursuit of my heart–I know He has always pursued it, but He blessed me with truly seeing how He was doing so this last week. I have just seen how much He loves me in my love for a friend–it hurts me so much to love that friend, and yet I requested that God show me how to love that friend the way that He does, and He replied, “Alright, I’m going to show you My love for him in every aspect of it–including the pain and rejection My Son experienced.” But it is good to know that God won’t keep us in pain any longer than is necessary for our sanctification and His glory. Praise Him for being a loving Father!

  3. Kay says

    Mark:

    Thank you for sharing these thoughts. I am reminded often of how much patience God has toward us (his children) when I am loosing patience with my own children. My own sons and daughters whom I love with a tenacious and voratious love. They can sometimes try my patience so quickly. He sees our pride, arrogance, rebellion, selfishness and on and on the list goes. Through it all he only loves us. Though it all he is there to comfort us whenever we call to Him.

    Just the same he always wants to see our suffering end. He will bring all of His power to wield to accomplish this task. Recall if you will the Red Sea. Behold the place calld Calvary!!! There is nothing that He would not do for us!

  4. says

    What great comments you guys made. Thank you.

    Ron,

    I appreciate the parallel you drew between us and the children of Israel – we’re just like them – every bit as idolatrous. Praise God that he has put his Spirit in us and moves our hearts to obey him. I’m so glad to be in the New Covenant people, not the old!

    Rachel,

    Rejection is one of the most painful experiences we can go through – I can’t imagine the pain Jesus experienced when he was rejected by those he came to save, and continues to experience every day from sinners. I trust that Jesus will be near to you as you experience rejection. Thank you for your expression of faith in God as a loving Father.

    Megan,

    Thank you for commenting – I appreciate it a lot.

    Kay,

    Sounds like you’re a member of my club (the impatient, arrogant, prideful parent club) – I’m the president. But I’m so glad to have a mighty Savior – Amen, remember especially Calvary! Thanks for your comments.

  5. says

    In God’s case, he is not impatient as a deficiency in character. Rather he desires to work with his kids in time. Sometimes the time seems long to the kids, so it also is to him. One day is as a thousand years, right?

  6. Kay McCoy says

    Mark:

    You have no idea what a truly heart stirring site this is! I get filled with the Spirit of the Lord everytime I come the the blazing center. I thank the Lord for using you and Stephen to stir the hearts of the brethren. Jesus is a class act that’s for sure.

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