(from 1 Peter 3)
The scoffers come just as Peter said they would, and they keep coming and coming. “If your God is who He says He is, where is He now? Where is the promise of His coming?”
And we wonder. God, why are You so slow to act?
Peter knows this frustration. Peter, the impulsive one, the one to whom “slow” was the worst kind of four-letter word. Peter was the friend of Jesus who jumped from the boat into the waves (more than once) because he just couldn’t wait, the one who blurted out the first thing he thought of when he witnessed Jesus talking with Moses and Elijah, the one who rashly boasted he would never deny Jesus, who rushed in to cut off the guard’s ear, and who then spewed out a series of denials in a moment that would torment him long afterwards. Peter was the one who ran into the empty tomb and looked for a Jesus who wasn’t there, who had to wait for Jesus to come to him.
Peter didn’t like slow. Peter wanted God to act now, wanted to have the promise sooner rather than later. Peter understood those who would question God’s timing.
And so it is significant that Peter is the one who says, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness.” This is the slowness of delay, of putting off, of loitering. This is the slowness of not caring, of laziness or selfishness.
This is not our God. The slowness of God, says Peter, is his patience. “He is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”
This is the slowness “of a long spirit.” It speaks of a character that does not lose heart. It perseveres patiently and bravely, enduring troubles, bearing offenses and injuries. It is the longsuffering heart that is slow to anger and slow to avenge.*
It is the slowness of the hand that reaches out to pull Peter from the waves in which he was sinking, the fingers that healed the guard Peter would rather have killed, the man who stood on shore and cooked breakfast for the one who had denied he ever knew Him.
God is not slow, says Peter, because one thousand years is as a day to Him, and all His purposes for all our moments are good. He is not bothered when the scoffers mock and question Him, for He knows what He is up to. He is for us. Always. He wants us all to reach for Him, and He is willing to wait.
This means we must wait, too. And what kind of people should we be as we live in this patience of God?
Holy. Godly. “Since you are waiting . . . be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation.”
The purposes of God are all salvation. We can wait in way that demonstrates that to those who would question Him. If the scoffers see us living “without spot” and at peace, what can they say? Maybe they will reach for this God who is longing for them.
“Take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Maybe we can also be long-spirited, bearing offenses, slow to avenge. Maybe we can be this kind of slow.
Take it from the impatient one, the rash one, the one who learned firsthand the healing patience of God. If you are waiting for God to do something, to show up, to come and fulfill His promise, be still. God has not forgotten nor lost heart. Choose peace. Watch for His salvation.
*Definitions from Strong’s Concordance