Chapter 7 of the book of Micah describes a bleak, realistic view of the world at the time. Micah let us in on how bad things really were. Here is a paraphrase of what he said:
I’m overwhelmed with sorrow!
sunk in a swamp of despair!
I’m like someone who goes to the garden
to pick cabbages and carrots and corn
And returns empty-handed,
finds nothing for soup or sandwich or salad.
There’s not a decent person in sight.
Right-living humans are extinct.
They’re all out for one another’s blood,
animals preying on each other.
They’ve all become experts in evil.
Corrupt leaders demand bribes.
The powerful rich
make sure they get what they want.
The best and brightest are thistles.
The top of the line is crabgrass.
But no longer: It’s exam time.
Look at them slinking away in disgrace!
Don’t trust your neighbor,
Watch your words,
even with your spouse.
Neighborhoods and families are falling to pieces.
The closer they are – sons, daughters, in-laws –
The worse they can be.
Your own family is the enemy. (Mic. 7:1-6 MSG)
Everything was wrong. There was no food. Everyone was wrong. There was no one to trust. It sounds so horrific it is almost comical. But it was the reality Micah knew. Yet after all that sad description, our passage for today appears, making it all the sweeter. It proves God’s patience all the more. In the darkest of times, in the worst circumstances, in the places where sin seems to reign without restraint, God is described as One who “will again have compassion on us; he will vanquish our iniquities.”
“We don’t even understand the type of patience that God has with us because we don’t even understand the depth of our sin.”
God tells us over and over again that His patience is not something to be earned. It is not something we can coerce Him into showing to us. He is patient because that is who He is. And let’s be honest: Patient is all He can be when dealing with a crew like us or a society like the one Micah described. God’s only other option would be to wipe us out completely, and we know that He won’t do that because He has promised not to (Gen. 9:11).
Why does God choose to “again have compassion on us”? Micah 7:18 provides the answer: “Who is a God like you, forgiving iniquity and passing over rebellion for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not hold on to his anger forever because He delights in faithful love” (italics mine). Passing over our sins, forgiving us repeatedly, casting our sins into the depths of the sea, keeping us for Himself – these bring Him delight. It makes God happy to show us how much He loves us.
God isn’t just generally patient with humanity, although He is that. He is specifically patient with you. He knows your personal sins, He knows where you give in to temptation, He sees your heart, and He shows specific patience just when you are sure you don’t deserve it.
We should delight in God’s patience as He delights in it. We can look back on all the ways He has been patient with us and look forward to all the ways He will continue to be patient with us until the very end. He delights in outdoing what we can even fathom. We don’t even understand the type of patience that God has with us because we don’t even understand the depth of our sin. Yet again and again He will have compassion on us. Who is this God? He is ours. He is the One who delights to show His love to you. He is the One who delights to show His patience with you. He is the one who you are free to run to today knowing you will receive mercy upon mercy and grace upon grace.
by Jessica Thompson
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