The slowness of God

“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:8-9)

For those suffering from physical pain, unemployment, relational stress, or any other number of heartaches, the well-known phrase “with the Lord, a day is like a thousand years” is hardly comforting. In the context, Peter is speaking these words to those who think God’s withholding of judgment is proof that he will never judge, so we can live however we please. Peter rebukes such people, telling them that God withholds judgment because He wants to give everyone a chance to repent of their sin, but that one day we will all stand before Him, and then it will be too late for the wicked to turn from their sin.

But back to the whole “day = thousand years” thing. Peter’s point in using that phrase is to make it clear that what seems like a long time to us is like a blink of an eye to God. Certainly, those of us accustomed to microwave dinners, high-speed internet, and everything “on demand” should take this to heart. As Peter writes, God keeps His promises – just not quickly enough, from our perspective.

“How long?” Eighteen times that question is asked of God in the Psalms. How long will you allow wickedness to go unpunished? How long will you forget me? How long will you hide yourself? How long will you be angry? The questions seem as relevant as if they were spoken today. God, if you are so good and so loving, how much longer will you allow this pain to continue?

While being in the company of the Psalmists does not take away the pain, it does encourage us that we are not alone in our pain and our questioning of God. God can handle our complaints. And the answer, as Peter declares, is that God is a God who always keeps His promises, even if they are not fulfilled as quickly as we would like. God never stops being good, never stops being loving, and never stops working for our good, to conform us to the image of His Son Jesus. And if it takes 3 days, or 3 months, or 3 years, or 33 years, then that is what God has deemed necessary to do His refining work. As the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah both declared, God is the potter, and we are the clay, and sometimes the potter must keep the clay on the wheel for a long time in order to transform it into a beautiful pot that can be used for noble purposes.

And so, I encourage you: when the days feel like they last a thousand years, trust in the potter, the God who always keeps His promises. Even if those promises are not fulfilled as quickly as you would like, know that our God is good, all the time.

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