Anyone who is familiar with Christianity or the Bible probably has heard of or thought of God as being described as patient. Scripture tells us:
"Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth" Ex. 34:6
"But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, Slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth." Ps. 86:15
"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
But this weekend, I heard someone thank God for His patience in a way that I wasn't expecting - and in a way that I had never heard before.
This weekend in Dallas, TX, after everything that happened this week across our nation, where so many innocent lives were lost, we gathered together as a church at a park in downtown Dallas and prayed for our nation, our community, and this broken world we live in.
And during that time, someone I was praying with thanked God for His patience.
Her prayer went something like this:
"Dear God, I just want to thank you during this time for your patience with us. You could have come back today or yesterday or at any time, while so many hearts were still hurting and angry and far from you, but instead, you are patient. Because you want as many people to know you as possible, you are patient with us and you don't give up on us."
It was a prayer I had never heard before. And yet one that was so appropriate for the times we are living in.
In times like these, nonbelievers cry out and say, "Where is your God now!?"
But in times like these believers unite knowing, that He is right here with us - begging us to turn from sin and run to Him.
Patiently waiting for us to run to Him.
You see, everything we're going through, every news headline our Facebook gets filled with is a consequence of sin - rape, terror, mass shootings, racism.
God doesn't desire any of these things to be a part of our world. But when we chose to turn from Him, sin entered in.
But instead of giving up there. Instead of destroying creation and giving up on humanity, He continues to be patient with us. And 2,016 years ago He sent His son Jesus to show us the way, to die on a cross for our sins, and to ultimately rise again and defeat death and sin all together.
And today, though we still live in a broken and fallen world, anxiously awaiting His return, we can do so with His Holy Spirit living inside us and His grace on us.
God doesn't want us to live in sin. He doesn't desire that we live divided or accustom to the tragedies we have recently experienced. But He does promise that while we are living in this broken world filled with sin (hate, racism, murder) that He will walk with us through it and that He will work through it (John 16:33).
As believers, let us see these dark times as opportunities to shine our light even brighter. To thank God for not returning just yet, so that we can have more chances to share His love with more of our friends and family members so that they may come to know Him.
Every day God is patient with us. Every day we wake up He gives us another opportunity to tell someone about Him.
If you know Jesus as Lord and Savior, you have the greatest hope in the world - and if you look around today, just about the only hope in the world.
Don't keep Him to yourself.
"God saves people to save people."
And He's begging us to all run to Him and bring as many of His children home with us as we can.