“Consider the patience of our Lord as salvation.”—2 PETER 3:15.
1. What do some faithful ones ask?
A SISTER who has been faithfully serving Jehovah for a long time and has endured many difficult situations asked, “Will I see the end before I die?” Some who have served Jehovah for many years ask the same thing. We long for the day when God will make all things new and remove the problems we now have. (Revelation 21:5) Even though we have many reasons to believe that the end of Satan’s system is very near, it can be difficult to wait patiently for that day.
2. What questions about patience will we answer?
2 The Bible shows that we must have patience. Like God’s servants in the past, we will receive what God has promised if we have strong faith and wait patiently for his time to fulfill those promises. (Read Hebrews 6:11, 12.) Jehovah himself has been patient. He could have ended wickedness at any time, but he is waiting for the right time. (Romans 9:20-24) Why is he so patient? How has Jesus imitated his Father’s patience and set an example for us? Why is it good for us to learn to wait patiently like Jehovah? The answers to these questions can help us have patience and stronger faith, even if it might seem to us that Jehovah is taking too long to act.
WHY DOES JEHOVAH SHOW PATIENCE?
3, 4. (a) Why has Jehovah shown patience? (b) When Adam and Eve disobeyed, what did Jehovah do?
3 No one has more authority over the universe than Jehovah, and he does not need to wait to end all problems. But Jehovah has good reason for showing patience. Because of the rebellion in Eden, some very important questions needed to be answered for the benefit of all in heaven and on earth. Jehovah has been patient because he knew that it would take time to answer those questions perfectly. Since he knows very well what every person in heaven and on earth does and thinks, he certainly is doing what is best for us.—Hebrews 4:13.
4 Jehovah’s purpose was that the descendants of Adam and Eve fill the earth. When Satan deceived Eve and then Adam disobeyed, God did not panic. He did not act without thinking or give up on humans. Instead, he decided in advance the way he would fulfill his purpose for humans and the earth. (Isaiah 55:11) Because Jehovah has shown great self-control and patience, he can fulfill his purpose and prove that his rule is best for all. He has even waited thousands of years to fulfill some parts of his purpose in the best way.
5. What is a good reason to wait on Jehovah?
5 Another reason why Jehovah has waited patiently is so that more people can have everlasting life. Right now, he is doing what is needed to save “a great crowd.” (Revelation 7:9, 14; 14:6) Through our preaching work, Jehovah is inviting people to learn about his Kingdom and his righteous requirements. The Kingdom message is “good news” for people. In fact, it is the best possible news! (Matthew 24:14) Each person Jehovah invites becomes part of a worldwide organization of true friends who love what is right. (John 6:44-47) Our loving God is doing all these things to help people to have his approval. He has also been choosing some humans to become members of his heavenly government. When they go to heaven, they will help obedient humans on earth to become perfect and to have everlasting life. So even while he is patiently waiting, Jehovah has been working to fulfill his promises. And all of this is for our good.
6. (a) How did Jehovah show patience in Noah’s time? (b) How is Jehovah showing patience in our time?
6 Jehovah is patient even when others do terrible things to insult him. For example, think of what he chose to do about the wickedness before the Flood. Jehovah was “hurt at his heart” because people had filled the earth with sexual immorality and violence, and they wanted to do only what was bad. (Genesis 6:2-8) Of course, he was not going to allow wickedness to continue forever. So he decided to bring the Flood to destroy disobedient humans. While Jehovah waited, he did what was needed for Noah and his family to be saved. (1 Peter 3:20) At the right time, Jehovah told Noah about the Flood and instructed him to build an ark. (Genesis 6:14-22) Jehovah also wanted Noah to warn others of the destruction that was soon to come. The Bible says that Noah was “a preacher of righteousness.” (2 Peter 2:5) Jesus said that our time is like the time of Noah. Jehovah has already decided when he will destroy this wicked system, but no human knows the “day and hour” when that will happen. (Matthew 24:36) Today, God has given us the work of warning people and telling them how they can be saved.
7. Is Jehovah taking too long to fulfill his promises? Explain.
7 Clearly, Jehovah’s patience does not mean that he is simply waiting for time to pass. And we should never think that he is not paying attention to us or that he does not care! But it may be easy to think this way as we get older or suffer in this wicked system. We might become discouraged or feel that God is taking too long to fulfill his promises. (Hebrews 10:36) Never forget that he has good reasons for being patient and that he is using this time in a way that benefits his loyal servants. (2 Peter 2:3; 3:9) Let us now consider how Jesus imitated the patience of his Father.
HOW IS JESUS A VERY GOOD EXAMPLE OF PATIENCE?
8. In what situations did Jesus show patience?
8 Jesus is doing the will of God and has happily done so for thousands of years. When Satan rebelled, Jehovah decided that his Son would come to earth and become the Messiah. Think of the patience Jesus showed while he was waiting for thousands of years for that time to come. (Read Galatians 4:4.) During that time, he was not just waiting and doing nothing. He was very busy with the work that his Father gave him. And when he came to earth, he knew that Satan would cause his death, as prophesied. (Genesis 3:15; Matthew 16:21) He patiently suffered extreme pain because he knew that it was God’s will for him to die that way. Jesus did not think about himself. He was humble and willing to suffer even though he was God’s Son. Jesus was a perfect example of loyalty to God, and we should imitate him.—Hebrews 5:8, 9.
9, 10. (a) What has Jesus been doing while he waits for Jehovah to act? (b) How can we imitate Jesus’ attitude?
9 After his resurrection, Jesus received authority in heaven and on earth. (Matthew 28:18) He has always used that authority to fulfill Jehovah’s purpose and has always acted at Jehovah’s chosen time. So Jesus patiently waited at God’s right hand until 1914, when God gave Jesus authority over his enemies. (Psalm 110:1, 2; Hebrews 10:12, 13) Soon, he will destroy Satan’s system. While he waits, Jesus patiently helps people to have God’s approval and leads them to “waters of life.”—Revelation 7:17.
Although Jesus has great authority, he patiently waits for God’s time
10 Do you see how you can imitate Jesus’ attitude? He knew that Jehovah had chosen a certain time to act. Of course, Jesus longed to do what his Father asked of him. But he was willing to wait for God’s time. While we wait for the end of Satan’s wicked system, we all need to be patient. We need to wait for God to act and not give up when we are discouraged. What can we do to have this kind of patience?
HOW CAN I LEARN TO BE PATIENT LIKE GOD?
11. (a) How is patience connected to faith? (b) Why do we have good reason to have strong faith?
11 Before Jesus came to earth, the prophets and other faithful servants showed by their example that even imperfect humans can endure patiently. Their patience was connected to their faith. (Read James 5:10, 11.) If they did not have faith, or did not truly believe what Jehovah had promised them, they would not have waited patiently for his promises to come true. But they often endured very difficult or frightening situations because they had faith that God would do what he had promised. (Hebrews 11:13, 35-40) The Bible shows that we have even more reason to have strong faith today. Jesus has become the “Perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2) He fulfilled many prophecies and helped us better understand God’s purposes.
12. What can we do to strengthen our faith?
12 What can we do to strengthen our faith and, as a result, become more patient? One important thing is to follow God’s instructions. For example, think about why you should put the Kingdom first in your life. Can you make a greater effort to obey the command at Matthew 6:33? Perhaps you could spend more time in the ministry or make changes to simplify your lifestyle. Jehovah has already blessed the efforts you have made to obey his instructions. He might have given you a new Bible study or helped you to receive “the peace of God that excels all thought.” (Read Philippians 4:7.) As you focus on blessings like these, you will realize that it is good for you to be patient.—Psalm 34:8.
13. What illustrates the way in which our faith can make us more patient?
13 An illustration can help us to understand how our faith can make us more patient. A farmer sows, cultivates, and reaps. Each time the farmer has a good harvest, he becomes more confident about sowing seed again. He may even sow seed in more fields the next time. He sows seed even though he knows that he will have to wait patiently for the harvest. He trusts that he will reap. In the same way, when we learn about Jehovah’s instructions, follow them, and have good results, our trust and faith in Jehovah grow. Then it is easier to have patience and to wait for the blessings we know will come.—Read James 5:7, 8.
14, 15. How should we think of human suffering?
14 Something else we can do to become more patient is to try to think of the world and our own situation the way Jehovah does. For example, think of how Jehovah feels about human suffering. For a long time, Jehovah has seen humans suffer, and this causes him pain. But he has not allowed that pain to stop him from doing good. He sent his Son “to break up the works of the Devil” and remove all the suffering Satan has caused humans. (1 John 3:8) The truth is that soon God will end all suffering forever. So we do not want to allow the wickedness in this world to weaken our faith. We do not want to become impatient about when Jehovah will act. Let us have faith in God’s promises. Jehovah has decided exactly when to end wickedness, and he will act right on time.—Isaiah 46:13; Nahum 1:9.
15 During these difficult last days, we may have to endure some very troubling situations that will test our faith. We or our loved ones may suffer because of violence or some other reason. Instead of acting in an angry way, we need to be determined to trust completely in Jehovah. We are imperfect, so it is not easy to do that. But remember what Jesus did, as we read at Matthew 26:39.—Read.
While we wait, we must strengthen our faith and use our time wisely
16. While we wait for the end to come, what must we avoid doing?
16 A person who doubts that the end is near could start to have a wrong attitude. He could think that he needs to make his own plans in case Jehovah’s promises do not come true. He might think, ‘I will wait and see if Jehovah does what he has promised.’ This wrong thinking would make it hard for this person to be patient. As a result, he might try to become someone important in this world or start trusting in money and stop putting God’s Kingdom first. Or he might decide to go to a university to make sure he has a comfortable life now. But that person would really be showing a lack of faith. Remember that Paul told us to imitate those who had “faith and patience” and, because of that, received promises of blessings from Jehovah. (Hebrews 6:12) Jehovah has already decided to destroy this wicked world, and he will not be late. (Habakkuk 2:3) Until then, we must avoid doing only a limited amount in Jehovah’s service. Instead, we need to remember that we are living in the last days and do our best in the preaching work. This work can give us great joy right now.—Luke 21:36.
WHAT BLESSINGS DOES PATIENCE BRING?
17, 18. (a) What opportunity do we have while we wait patiently? (b) If we are patient, what blessings will we receive?
17 Whether we have served God for a few months or for many years, we want to serve him forever. Patience will help us to endure until the end of this system, no matter how long we have to wait. Jehovah is now giving us the opportunity to prove that we have complete trust in his decisions and that we will stay faithful to him even if we have to suffer. (1 Peter 4:13, 14) God is also giving us training that can help us to endure patiently to the end and be saved.—1 Peter 5:10.
18 Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth, and nothing can stop him from protecting you if you stay faithful. (John 10:28, 29) There is no need to fear the future or even death. Those who patiently endure to the end will be saved. So we must make sure that we do not allow the thinking of the world to affect our thinking and make us stop trusting in Jehovah. Instead, while God is being patient, we must be determined to strengthen our faith and use our time wisely.—Matthew 24:13; read 2 Peter 3:17, 18.