Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. (2 Pet. 3:15)

THE FIRST YEAR I TAUGHT HIGH SCHOOL ENGLISH, I wanted my students to grasp my lessons immediately. I expected them to complete the day’s assignment before the bell rang. To accomplish this required them to be silent and concentrate while I monitored them. It didn’t happen. Some did as I expected, but more than one struggled to stay on task. Several started talking to others, and some asked to go to the restroom.

One day I passed by a veteran teacher’s classroom. It looked and sounded as though chaos reigned, yet she was praised for her infinite patience with students and was often elected Teacher of the Year. At lunch I asked how she could be patient amidst such bedlam.

“Oh,” she laughed, “they’re learning as they discuss it among themselves.”

Peter struggled to make the early Christians understand that Christ’s delay in returning did not mean He had forgotten them. The purpose of His delay, Peter said, was the salvation of souls. It was hard for those who had accepted Jesus as Savior and were eager for His return to wait for those who had not heard the gospel or made their decision for Christ. Like the veteran teacher, Peter counted it joy to bide his time so others could complete the assignment. Patience has long been called a virtue; perhaps one of the greatest gifts God offers us.

Pray for someone while you wait today.

Alice Stone Thomas is an adjunct professor of English. In addition to her three children and five grandchildren, she loves to read, write, and garden.