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2 Peter 3:9:

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What is Patience?

The attribute of God’s patience, often termed as long suffering, is a profound aspect of His character that demonstrates His enduring tolerance and forbearance toward humanity. Unlike human patience, with its limitations, God’s patience is deeply rooted in His infinite nature, encompassing a steadfast endurance and a willingness to bear with us in our weaknesses and failings.

This divine patience means that God is slow to anger. He does not hastily react in wrath or judgment despite our many provocations. Instead, God’s patience reflects His desire to allow us to repent, turn away from our wrongdoings, and grow in understanding and faith. It is a testament to His merciful and loving nature, showing His willingness to wait and work with us over time.

God’s patience is not a sign of indifference or weakness but a powerful expression of His love and grace. It’s about God giving us the time and space to recognize our mistakes, to learn from them, and to choose a better path. This patience is evident throughout the Bible, where, time and again, God shows forbearance towards individuals and nations, waiting for them to return to Him.

Moreover, God’s patience has a redemptive purpose. It is part of His broader plan of salvation, where more people can come to know Him and experience His love and grace through His patience. This patience is an invitation for us to experience His transformation and to grow in our relationship with Him.

In essence, God’s patience reflects His unchanging character – it is enduring, loving, and redemptive. It reassures us that we are continually being given chances to improve and align ourselves more closely with His will. Understanding God’s patience inspires us to be patient with ourselves and others, mirroring His forbearance in our lives.

Scripture References

  • 2 Peter 3:9: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
  • Exodus 34:6: “And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.”
  • Psalm 86:15: “But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” 
  • Romans 2:4: “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance, and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” 
  • 1 Timothy 1:16: “But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.” 
  • Numbers 14:18: “The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”

Biblical Example of God’s Patience

A salient biblical example demonstrating God’s patience is the story of the Israelites’ journey through the wilderness, particularly in the book of Exodus.

Throughout the Exodus narrative, the Israelites frequently grumble and doubt despite witnessing God’s miraculous deliverance from Egypt and His provision in the wilderness. A key instance is their rebellion at Mount Sinai, where they create and worship a golden calf, directly violating God’s commandments (Exodus 32). Despite their repeated disobedience and lack of faith, God, through Moses’ intercession, chooses not to destroy them but continues to guide and provide for them. This is an exemplary demonstration of God’s patience.

A verse that encapsulates this attribute is Exodus 34:6, where God describes Himself as “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” This self-description of God highlights His patience and long-suffering nature.

The story of the Israelites in the wilderness offers lessons on understanding and embodying God’s patience. Firstly, it shows that God’s patience is deeply tied to His love and mercy. Despite the Israelites’ failures, God’s commitment to them does not waver. This teaches you about the steadfast nature of God’s patience, rooted in His unchanging love.

In your daily life, embracing God’s patience means showing forbearance and understanding towards others, even when they disappoint or frustrate you. It’s about giving others the time and space to grow, just as God does with you.

Furthermore, this narrative encourages you to be patient with yourself in your spiritual journey. Just as the Israelites took time to grow in their faith and understanding, you, too, might have moments of doubt or struggle. Recognizing God’s patience with you can help you be more patient with your spiritual growth and transformation process.

In addition, the story of the Israelites serves as a reminder to be patient and wait for God’s timing and promises. Just as the Israelites had to wait and trust in God’s plan for their journey to the Promised Land, you are called to trust in God’s timing and plan for your life, even when it doesn’t align with your expectations or desired timeline.

In conclusion, the Israelites’ journey through the wilderness and their experiences with God’s patience offer valuable insights for living a triumphant life. Embracing and reflecting on God’s patience in your interactions, personal growth, and waiting on His promises fosters a deeper sense of peace, resilience, and trust in God’s faithful guidance.

Why Should We Praise God for His Patience?

Praising God for His patience involves recognizing and expressing gratitude for His enduring tolerance and forbearance toward humanity. Understanding why and how to praise Him for His patience can deeply impact your spiritual life.

Why Praise God for His Patience

1. Recognition of His Enduring Tolerance: God’s patience shows His willingness to bear with our weaknesses and failings (2 Peter 3:9, Exodus 34:6). Praising Him for this trait acknowledges His enduring forbearance and slow-to-anger nature.

2. Appreciation of His Desire for Our Repentance and Growth: God’s patience is rooted in His desire for us to repent and grow in understanding and faith (Psalm 86:15, Romans 2:4). Praising Him for His patience means appreciating His merciful and loving nature.

3. Acknowledgment of His Redemptive Purpose: God’s patience is part of His broader plan of salvation (1 Timothy 1:16). Praising Him for His patience recognizes His desire for more people to come to know Him.


As we focus on the attribute of God’s patience in our Bible study, I invite you to deepen your understanding and connection with this aspect of God’s character through four reflection exercises:

1. Reflect on the Nature of God’s Enduring Tolerance: Consider when someone was patient with you in a situation where you might not have deserved it. Now, think about how God’s patience is even greater, as depicted in 2 Peter 3:9 and Exodus 34:6. Reflect on how this understanding of God’s infinite patience affects your perspective on grace and forgiveness. Write down your thoughts or share them with a friend, focusing on how this realization influences your relationship with God and with others.

Contemplate God’s Desire for Our Growth and Repentance: Reflect on a personal journey of growth or repentance that took longer than you expected. How does God’s patience, as shown in Psalm 86:15 and Romans 2:4, help you understand His desire for your spiritual development? Consider journaling about this process or discussing it with your group, acknowledging how God’s patience has allowed you space to grow and learn.

Meditate on the Redemptive Purpose of God’s Patience: Spend some time thinking about how God’s patience, as seen in 1 Timothy 1:16, is part of His plan for your salvation and the salvation of others. How does this perspective shape your understanding of waiting and God’s timing in your life? You might want to write a prayer or a letter to God, expressing your gratitude for His patience and the redemptive opportunities it provides.

Apply the Lesson of the Israelites’ Story to Your Life: Reflect on the story of the Israelites in the wilderness, particularly their experience with God’s patience during challenging times (Exodus 32). Think about a current challenge in your life. How does this story encourage you to trust in God’s patient guidance and timing? Maybe set a goal for the week to practice patience in a specific area of your life, drawing inspiration from God’s patience with the Israelites.

Through these exercises, my hope is that you’ll develop a deeper appreciation of God’s patience and see more clearly how His enduring tolerance and forbearance are manifested in your life. Remember, God’s patience is not just a concept to understand; it’s a reality to live by. Embracing and trusting in His patience can transform your perspective, especially during times of personal growth or waiting.

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