And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.” — Exodus 34:6-7
Struggling with disappointment and depression is not rare among the people of God. We forget the God we worship. We forget the God who redeemed us. We forget His attributes, and confuse our lowly, sinful attributes with His.
This is why it is so important to remember His attributes. He is longsuffering to mankind in general. Justice is served upon the wicked, but it is slow in coming because God is merciful. Just think of the sinfulness in our own hearts. If He were swift and quick, our days would be short and we would never know the grace of old age. But He does’t give us what we deserve. We deserve that swift justice. Yet, He waits.
Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? — Romans 2:4
Had He been quick in His justice, I would never have known His mercy. Yet, He is patient with me and all those who belong to Him. His mercy is new every morning, especially to those who know Him through His Son. We have been shown His special mercy in bringing us to our need of salvation through Jesus Christ.
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. — 2 Peter 3:9
The problem arises when we forget His mercy and misery of this life crashes in upon us. We begin to doubt His goodness. We forget what He did in redeeming us. We forget His longsuffering with us, and get angry with Him when we have to actually suffer for but a little while. How is this possible? Are we so ungrateful toward our LORD, toward Christ, who ultimately suffered the greatest injustice on our behalf, that we fail to wait on the LORD to deliver us from our suffering?
Sadly, that is often the case, at least it is for me. We need the reminders that in the midst of suffering, God’s goodness has not changed. In our trials, His mercy is still abundant. When we face ailments of all sorts, He is still longsuffering with us.
Wilhelmus á Brakel reminds us of our need to be careful.
And believers, how you do injustice towards the LORD when you view Him as cruel, merciless, pitiless, and always angry, because He neither immediately delivers you from your threatening and pressing circumstances, nor grants you your desire, nor answers your prayers. You dishonor God with such thoughts. You imagine things about God that are unbecoming of Him. Humble yourself for entertaining such sinful and God-dishonoring conceptions. Refrain yourself from and be fearful of such thoughts. How detrimental it is to you when you dwell upon such thoughts…
Please conduct yourself no longer thus, but condition yourself to view God always in such a fashion as we have described Him to be on the basis of His word (The Christian’s Reasonable Service, Volume 1, The Essence of God, p. 126-127)
Remember His goodness. Remember that His Son suffered on our behalf, so that we could be redeemed from the ultimate price for sin and death. There is no crown of Christ, without the cross of Christ. In this life, we will suffer, but in Christ, we have the hope of glory.
Actually written August 13, 2019. I changed the date that it was published to protect the innocent.