Friday, December 1

I'm wondering at the patience of God.

I recently stumbled across the definition of the word "propitiation" (to dispense with the wrath of another person) and was startled to learn (how did I not know this?) that Christ's death on the cross, a necessary sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins, was to appease the wrath of God (1 Jn. 4:10: ...and this is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son as propitiation for our sins).

I'm chewing on this idea as I wonder at God's patience. And I wonder at His anger. And I wonder about the anger in my own life.

My sons receive the brunt ~~ the whole, really ~~ of my frustration. As the morning wears on here, I can list three instances of sharp tone and impatience in my response to my kids. Complaints provoke me. Dawdling ensures sharp reprimand. Squabbling sends me over the edge.

And I think about the patience of God.

The New Testament refers to Jesus as, among other things, an intercessor. Christ is going before the Father on our behalf requesting...what? Mercy? "Okay, Dad? I know they're driving you mad, but remember that I payed for their lives with my own. Stay your anger a while longer..."

I complain to the Lord a lot. Daily, probably. I dawdle in obeying even the most simple of commands. And I am quick to retain offense (I'm not great at squabbling...but I do a smashing job of holding a grudge!).

If the small slights of my children send me reeling (At one point this morning, I dropped my face into my hands and moaned, "No, no, no, no" ~~ my plaintive response to their insistence on getting the Christmas calendar's of their own choosing. Gifts, for goodness' sake! I was giving them "Happy December 1st!" gifts and they launched into a verbal tussle about who would get which chocolate-filled treasure!)...If the small slights of my children have me caving, I wonder how God manages to keep His cool?

Does He drop His head in His hands? Does He raise His voice? Does He threaten to remove priveleges and dock allowance? And how much, exactly, are we being spared by the presence of Jesus at His right hand, a constant reminder that our mess has already been atoned for?

I don't know. But as I consider these things, day to day, I'm growing in the fear of the Lord. Our God is not one to be trifled with. Infinitely tender and full of mercy, He is also wrathful and violently opposed to sin. I teach my sons that His hatred of sin comes from His desire to protect His children. God's anger is paternal.

Which makes it both fearsome and comforting at once.

I want to learn His way in this. How does the God of Heaven and Earth manage anger? And when He admonishes us not sin in our own anger, what does He mean by that? And who on earth is going to be the go-between betwixt us and the people at whom our anger is directed?

Many questions. Few answers. And a boat load of hope that if God has asked it of us and of Himself, then there is a Way. A way to live the patience of God.

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