2 Peter 3:9 – The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
When I was a boy I was fascinated with fire, and then I discovered gunpowder. The flash and burn of that powder was amazing and dangerous, a young boy’s dream. Having secreted a good deal of the black powder into my room, I wrapped it up in paper and took this volatile bundle into my closet to set it aflame. A jet of fire shot forth from this small package burning my face and hair with intense heat. Thank God that He preserved my foolish life, but sin always comes at a price.
The immediate pain was immense, but I thought that I could yet hide my foolishness. Running to the bathroom, I grabbed a washcloth and wet it with the coldest water I could get from the tap to place it upon my burning face. Nothing helped. Finally in panic I went to my mother in a desperate bid for mercy. By grace and love, she was merciful and rushed to my aid. In quick order, I was at the hospital receiving the care I needed, and my parents did not punish me for my adventures with gunpowder. My pains were punishment enough.
Our Heavenly Father is also patient and kind despite our foolish actions. Comparing the compassion of God to that of earthly fathers, Jesus said, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him” (Luke 11:13)? While some might mistake God’s longsuffering patience as slackness or neglect, the Bible tells us that He is actively giving us room to repent.
When next you think God is not listening or concerned with your daily affairs, remember that like a loving father, God gives His children freedom under His sovereign hand to turn to Him. On the other hand, He also gives room for us to harm ourselves, sometimes permanently, that we would learn to depend upon Him. “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).