Beloved, there are two things you need to know from this passage. First, the God that created the heavens and the earth is the one who preserves them and can also destroy them. Second, that God is not slack concerning His promises. Therefore, let us have confidence in our God because He is an almighty God and is faithful to His good promises.
St. Peter’s words in 2 Peter 3:1-10 deal with the coming of the Lord. As I mentioned in my meditations on Thessalonians, this coming of the Lord is something that Christians in Peter and Paul’s day expected would happen in their lifetime. The coming of the Lord, then, may have reference to the destruction of the Old Covenant that happened with the destruction of the Temple. If so, then the language Peter uses, which is the language of the Old Testament prophets, is figurative language about the end of the world. And make no mistake: the coming of Jesus Christ and the destruction of the Old Covenant and its world was a cataclysmic event that truly brought in a New Covenant and a New World. But because it did not come with the physical dissolution of the heavens and earth, many have missed its significance.
The coming of the Lord may also have reference to the Second Coming of the Lord. Obviously, that is an event that has not yet happened, in which case the passage is more directly applicable.
In either case, St. Peter counsels faith and patience. The fact that the Lord tarries creates the potential for impatience, frustration, discouragement, and hopelessness. In fact, since the Lord tarries in many ways, and not just in His Second Coming, Christians are always faced with the fact that the God we are sure exists and loves us does not always come to us in the way and at the time that we want Him to.
Whenever we face various trials and sufferings and immediate comfort is not forthcoming, we are tempted to say, “Where is the promise of His coming?” (verse 4.) Maybe we have prayed, and maybe we’ve even tried to be faithful in the things He has told us to do that are part of the answer to our prayers. But God waits. The pain becomes greater, and our resolve to patiently wait for the Lord weakens. Things seem desperate, and we continue to cry out. And still the Lord waits.
The temptation to impatience and frustration, to discouragement and hopelessness, is a very real one in the Christian life because Christians are never promised that they will be immunized against the pain of living in a fallen world.
But we have been given even greater promises. God has promised that His desire is that not any of us perish (v 9.) He has promised to be with His people and to abide in them if they abide in Him. He has promised to be our God and that we will be His people. And He’s promised that He will dwell with men and seals and guarantees His promises by sending us His Holy Spirit.
Our God is the one who created the heavens and the earth, and He’s the one who destroyed the world in the days of Noah. He is the one who preserves the world even as you are reading this, and He is the one who will preserve you, this little child of His.
Therefore, if the Lord waits to come to You, or if He comes to You in a less visible way than you desired, be assured that He is doing what He does for your good. Remember who the Lord is, not just His power and glory, but His love and His promises. Remember the covenant He has made with you through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ – and rejoice! God knows your pain and discouragement and has promised to be with You through it, if you will wait on Him.
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise to you, but is indeed longsuffering toward us. As His child, then, participate in His longsuffering, by waiting on the One who has promised Himself to you.
Prayer: Father, I praise You as the eternal God who existed before all creation, and I praise You as the Almighty God who created the heavens and the earth. Remind me of Your promises, today, Lord. Where I am doubting, give me faith; where I am weak make me strong; where I am impatient, give me patience; and where I am hopeless, give me Jesus Christ, the hope of glory. Amen.
Point for Meditation:
Is there a trial in your life that has tempted you to become impatient, discouraged, or hopeless? Spend some extra time in prayer, asking for God not only to deliver you from this trial but also to give you patience in it and to form your character through it. Ask for an increase in the necessary fruits of the Spirit. Use this trial as a mnemonic device to remind you of God and His promises. Every time it enters your mind, use it immediately to lead you to God in prayer.
Resolution: I resolve to put away all of my doubts and frustration, my impatience and hopelessness, and to practice remembering God and His sure promises.
© 2015 Fr. Charles Erlandson