The Illusion of God’s Long-Suffering Patience

The Illusion of God's Long-Suffering Patience


When we think of God’s long-suffering patience, we think of His mysterious willingness to endure all manner of rebellion and maltreatment from humans without dishing out immediate consequences. God’s apparent tolerance for disobedience seems so high that some of us begin to wonder why He is so lacking in boundaries. After all, He is God, and we are mere specks by comparison. He has told us over and over how much He hates our defiance of Him, yet if He is so sensitive, why doesn’t He do a better job of standing up for Himself?

The longer we humans go without receiving the discipline we secretly know we deserve, the less we respect the authority figures in our lives.  When our parents act like pushovers, we end up despising them.  When God doesn’t make us respect Him, we lose all fear of mocking Him. We begin to view Him like a dog who is all bark and no bite. Why should we bother respecting Him if there are no consequences?

Time is a very illusive thing. As creatures bound in a temporal dimension, our perception of reality is as skewed as curved mirrors in a fun house. While you complain of how slow the hours are dragging by, your coworker says the same hours are flying by in her world. Doing the same tasks in the same environment doesn’t synchronize our individual experience of time. By now you’ve learned to accept that other humans don’t perceive time the same way as you.  Well, neither does God.

What you call a movie is really a series of static images (or frames) which fly by your face so rapidly that the illusion of movement is created.  The worldwide standard for movie theater film projectors is to show you 24 frames per second. This means that if you watch a one hour film, at least 864,000 individual pictures have flown past your face.  Now God is not bound in time like you are.  To Him, your entire existence is like the reel of an hour long film that He has already watched from beginning to end.  Your life on earth is captured in the first frame of that reel.  The rest of the frames show you in eternity.  So to God, you only have one frame’s worth of time to submit to Him before He casts judgment on you. That’s a mere fraction of a second.  It’s shorter than one blink.  So yes, you are given the chance to defy Him.  But from His perspective, your defiance is swiftly dealt with.  As far as God is concerned, He never acts like a doormat. He only waits for one frame’s worth of time before bringing rebels to their end.

While God dwells outside of time, able to see the end from the beginning, we are trapped inside of time.  To us, that first frame of the film of our lives takes decades to play out.  This greatly warps our perspective of reality and our perspective of God, yet this warping has important advantages. We are far too delicate to handle the Divine perspective of reality.  We need God to describe His complexity to us in simplified terms that our limited brains can grasp.  We need to be exposed to Him one glimpse at a time, for we can’t begin to handle the full picture.  We can’t handle the complete truth about anything.  Even when it comes to understanding the physical mechanics of our own bodies, we are overwhelmed by endless complexity.  We are creatures who need constant shielding from the Divine perspective of reality, and God provides that shielding for us.  But when we start projecting our limitations onto Him, we delude ourselves.

It is only because God has placed us in time that He speaks to us using the language of time. He describes Himself as long-suffering, yet He is really not long-suffering at all.  That first frame of film flies by with blinding speed for God.  From His perspective, all mockers barely open their mouths before they are eternally silenced by Him.  His retribution is swift and inescapable.  He is not at all tolerant of our defiance nor is He lacking in boundaries.  Instead He is the almighty King who warns us not to cross Him, for if we do, we will surely regret it.