The Lord, the God of their ancestors, sent word to them through his messengers again and again, because he had pity on his people and on his dwelling place. 2 Chronicles 36:15

This is a list of prophets that God sent to warn his people: Hosea, Amos, Habakkuk, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Joel, Micah and Zephaniah. Many of these prophets brought multiple messages over a long time. It’s estimated that Isaiah preached for 40 years. Likewise, Jeremiah writes, “For twenty-three years … the word of the Lord has come to me and I have spoken to you again and again, but you have not listened” (Jeremiah 25:3-4).

Again and again, God warned his people, but they didn’t repent. God is gracious and patient but we mustn’t presume his patience will last forever. On the one hand, “he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Yet we also know that God has said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal” (Genesis 6:3).

Why are we so reluctant to hear and heed God’s messages?

God doesn’t delight in allowing suffering but often it’s the only way God can get our attention. C. S. Lewis writes, “pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world” (from The Problem of Pain). Few seek God when they are content with their life. Even though, “God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance” (Romans 2:4).

God would prefer to lead us to himself via kindness but if necessary he will use pain because he knows, it’s only in relationship with himself that we will find eternal joy.