September 2, 2019

God’s Long-Suffering Nature

Our reliance on God must be unreserved.

Ellen G. White

The apostle Paul tells us, “After that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1 Cor. 1:21).

This was the carrying out of God’s plan for the conviction and conversion of [men and women], who are constantly tempted to magnify their own powers. The Lord would make it manifest whether [men and women] by their own finite wisdom could acquire a knowledge of the truth, whether they could know God, their Creator. . . .

With His eye upon the church, the Lord has again and again allowed matters to come to a crisis, that in their extremity His people should look alone for His help. Their prayers, their faith, together with their steadfast purpose to be true, have called for the interference of God, and then He has fulfilled His promise, “Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am” (Isa. 58:9).

His mighty arm has been stretched out for the deliverance of His people. God reserves His gracious interposition in their behalf till the time of their extremity; thus He makes their deliverance more marked, and their victories more glorious. . . .

Prayer, Faith, Reliance on God

What is needed in this, our time of danger, is fervent prayer, mingled with earnest faith, a reliance upon God when Satan casts his shadow over God’s people. Let everyone bear in mind that God delights to listen to the supplications of His people; for the prevailing iniquity calls for more earnest prayer, and God has promised that He will avenge His own elect, who cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them.

[Men and women] are prone to abuse the long-suffering of God, and to presume on His forbearance. But there is a point in human iniquity when it is time for God to interfere; and terrible are the issues. “The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked” (Nahum 1:3).

We are coming to a time when, more than ever before, we shall need to press together, to labor unitedly.

The long-suffering of God is wonderful, because He puts constraint on His own attributes; but punishment is nonetheless certain. Every century of profligacy has treasured up wrath against the day of wrath; and when the time comes, and the iniquity is full, then God will do His strange work. It will be found a terrible thing to have worn out the divine patience; for the wrath of God will fall so signally and strongly that it is presented as being unmixed with mercy; and the very earth will be desolated.

It is at the time of the national apostasy, when, acting on the policy of Satan, the rulers of the land will rank themselves on the side of the man of sin—it is then the measure of guilt is full; the national apostasy is the signal for national ruin.

God’s Extended Mercy

God has thrust His people into the gap, to make up the hedge, to raise up the foundation of many generations. The heavenly intelligences, angels that excel in strength, are waiting, obedient to His command, to unite with human agencies; and the Lord will interpose when matters have come to such a pass that none but a divine power can counteract the satanic agencies at work. When His people shall be in the greatest danger, seemingly unable to stand against the power of Satan, God will work in their behalf. [Humanity’s] extremity is God’s opportunity.

Now is the time when the loyal and true are to arise and shine; for the glory of the Lord is risen upon them. It is no time now to hide our colors, no time to turn traitors when the battle presses sore, no time to lay aside our weapons of warfare. Watchmen on the walls of Zion must be wide awake.

I am so thankful at this time that we can have our minds taken off from the difficulties that surround us, and the oppression that is to come upon the people of God, and can look up to the heaven of light and power. If we place ourselves on the side of God, of Christ and the heavenly intelligences, the broad shield of Omnipotence is over us, the mighty God of Israel is our helper, and we need not fear. Those who touch the people of God touch the apple of His eye. . . .

We are coming to a time when, more than ever before, we shall need to press together, to labor unitedly. In union there is strength. In discord and disunion there is only weakness. God never designed that one [person], or four, or twenty, should take an important work into their own hands, and carry it forward independently of other workers in the cause.

God wants His people to counsel together, to be a united church, in Christ a perfect whole. The only safety for us is to enter into the counsels of heaven, ever seeking to do the will of God, to become laborers together with Him. No one company is to form a confederacy, and say, “We are going to take this work, and carry it on in our own way; and if it does not go as we want it to, we will not give our influence to have it go at all.” This is Satan’s voice, not God’s. Do not obey such suggestions.

What we want is the spirit of Jesus. When we have this, we shall love one another. Here are the credentials that we are to bear: “By this shall all . . . know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35).


This excerpt was taken from Selected Messages (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1958), book 2, pp. 371-374. Seventh-day Adventists believe that Ellen G. White (1827-1915) exercised the biblical gift of prophecy during more than 70 years of public ministry.

Ellen G. White
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