Perspective on Patience (2 Pet 3:8-9)

But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 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.” (2 Peter 3:8–9, AV)

We are an impatient lot. Recently, I have been battling a strange upper and lower respiratory ailment. I have coughed so much over the last week that I have pulled a muscle in my back and my ribs ache. I think I am now over the hump on this thing, and cannot wait for it to be done. The average cold runs its course in a week to ten days. It seems like a long time when you are sick. However, when you survey a life time it is a very short time. Currently the average life expectance is 78.6 years or 28,689 days. A cold that lasts 10 days represents three-one-hundredths of a percent of one’s life. The point is that we have to put things in perspective.

Peter had written about those of his day that scoffed regarding the coming judgment of God. One of the things they apparently said was that things have been going on for a long time just as they are. They were scoffing at what the Scriptures taught about a coming judgment for the ungodly.

It is likely that godly people undergoing persecution by the ungodly and those undergoing other types of severe trials were wondering, when will the Lord return and fix this mess? When will He come and bring the judgment on those who are mistreating us? This is a common question among believers, even today.

Often in our lives, we go through moments of struggle and difficulty and say or, at least, think, “When will the Lord return?” We pray, “Come, Lord Jesus.” Peter assured the believers that the Lord is coming. Yet, even to us, His coming seems very delayed. To this, Peter gave some very important thoughts.

We view time from a very different perspective than our God. We view it from the earthly and temporal perspective. To us a thousand years is an extremely long time, 12.7 lifetimes. Yet, God views time in the perspective of eternity. Thus, to Him a thousand years is infinitesimal. Time is not what is significant to God.

What is significant to God is far greater than time. It is eternity, specifically as it relates to people. Peter wrote, that God is patient, “longsuffering,” toward people. He is giving people time to repent from their sin. We all should be grateful that He is patient and taking due time in bring the judgement. For everyone of us who have believed have been beneficiaries of His patient endurance. There was a time when we were not believers and unrepentant. If the judgment came then, we would have perished in our sin. Yet, He was patient with us, and not only us, but all who might come to faith after us.

When I consider my prayer for the Lord to return soon, I stop and consider my friends and family members who have not yet believed and repented. I certainly am grateful that the Lord is patient so that they still have time to consider the gospel and believe. Yet, while I do not know the time of His return, I know it will come suddenly. So, for now I am thankful for His “longsuffering” toward us and giving all people an opportunity to repent. Let us be faithful in this time of His patience to spread the good news so that others may “come to repentance.

Published by Steve Hankins, Th.D.

Steve has had extensive military, business and ministry experience. He has served for over 16 years in full time vocational ministry and many years of part time ministry in churches. He has led churches through start-up and recasting of vision. Now He resides on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he is working to help smaller churches and believers to renew their hearts and regain the joy of the Lord.

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