How does God have patience with us?

"God waits until he gets his turn," says Savannah, age 5.

His turn?

This sounds like something my elementary school principal might have said when I was called to his office. In my case, "his turn" usually translated into a paddle being applied to the seat of my pants.

God has patience with us "by waiting in line," says Ashton, 5. I suppose he's waiting in line to get his turn. Perhaps Ashton was considering how we make God wait in line by trying to solve problems by ourselves instead of turning to him for answers.

"God has patience with me and everyone else because we all mess up a lot," says Gary, 10. "Twenty-four hours a day, someone is sinning," adds Andrew, 11.

Or as Emily, 8, says, "God knows what's going on."

"God has patience with us because he is so, so, so very nice," says Christian, 7. Yes, God is nice or gracious in that he doesn't judge us immediately when we sin against him. But don't mistake God's slowness to anger for a compromise of his righteousness. Rather, his patience gives us time to turn to him.

"If God didn't have patience, we wouldn't be here right now," says Peter, 10. Yes, we wouldn't be "here" to "hear" God patiently calling us. The Apostle Paul wrote that those who harden their hearts against God store up his wrath against themselves for Judgment Day. Another translation reads "treasuring up for yourself wrath" (Romans 2:5).

Who in their right mind would want to invest in a "Wrath Account" administered by God?

"God has patience with us because he is perfect," says Madeline, 11. "God knows we are like sheep and are not smart. God knows we are sinners and need His mercy. God can give us His mercy when we ask for it."

Sheep grazing in green valleys seem so peaceful. It's easy to forget that sheep are not the brightest of God's creatures. Without a good shepherd, they're vulnerable to all kinds of hazards.

The prophet Isaiah wrote: "All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6).

In the ultimate paradox, Jesus is both the sacrificial lamb who dies for the sins of the world and the good shepherd who gives his life for the sheep. "God has patience with us because he had to sit and watch his son die on the cross," says Trey, 11. "He is waiting for us to believe in him," adds Elizabeth, 9.

"God wants us to be patient with others to show them we are Christians," says Sarah, 10. One of the biblical words used for patience is "perseverance." It's not just passively tolerating unpleasant circumstances. It's active endurance in the face of adversity. The Apostle Paul wrote to the new Christians at Corinth that the signs of an apostle, which included miracles, were "accomplished among you with all perseverance."

Sarah is right on target. If Christians belong to a patient Father, his patience should be reflected in their lives. Persevering patience in the lives of Christians is one of the best advertisements to those who don't know Jesus. Try turning the other cheek after you've been slapped with injustice, ridicule or scorn for believing in a man who rose from the dead almost 2,000 years ago.

Point to ponder: Patience is perseverance in the face of adversity or injustice. Scripture to remember: "For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls" (Hebrews 12:3). Question to consider: Is Jesus prompting you to show his patience to someone?

© 2004 Carey Kinsolving

Inspire your children by reading this column with them and visiting the Kids Talk About God website at  www.KidsTalkAboutGod.org. Bible quotations are from the New King James Version.

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