The ‘How Long?’ Question

How long?

        We’ve all asked it!


Sitting by the hospice-provided hospital bed in the living room of friends, the wife looked at her failing husband as he fought life’s last battle … and asked a question she knew did not have an obvious answer: “He’s ready to go, but why does God delay?”

Why, indeed. Throughout Scripture we find the question “How long, God?” On a personal level in Psalm 13, the Psalmist asks God if he’s been forgotten and for how long is he expected to suffer a heart filled with pain and sorrow.

And on a national level, the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk expresses a heart questioning some of the issues we face today. “How long, O Lord, must I call for help? But you do not listen! “Violence is everywhere!” I cry, but you do not come to save. Must I forever see these evil deeds? Why must I watch all this misery? Wherever I look, I see destruction and violence. I am surrounded by people who love to argue and fight. The law has become paralyzed, and there is no justice in the courts. The wicked far outnumber the righteous, so that justice has become perverted.” Habakkuk 1:2-4 New Living Translation

 Even with the story of their national hero Abraham’s twenty-five year wait for God’s promise to be fulfilled, Israel still looks for answers. The Psalms are Israel’s songbook for their congregational singing and it’s literally full of this ‘how long’ inquiry of God.

And so it is with us. We languish beneath emotionally draining conflicts. We reel under earthquake-like shaking in our personal dilemmas. We weary of hoping in the face of apparently unchanging circumstances. Our finances take a serious hit; health issues pile up. Keeping a stiff upper lip hasn’t solved anything.

What do we do? Well, we can panic and bolt. We can look for a back door and just ‘get out of Dodge.’ We can give in to the fears and frustrations and make the terrible mistake of buying into the lie that God doesn’t care or can’t help.

Or we can attempt to take matters into our own hands. “If God’s not going to do anything about this I guess I’ll have to take over for Him.” But we know better than to attempt to play God.

However, there is a third response and David always found a way to get from a questioning heart to this determination: “I am counting on the Lord; yes, I am counting on him.  I have put my hope in his word.” Psalm 130:5 New Living Translation

 This week, keep counting on God. Have patience in his timing as well as his love. And never doubt in the dark what He has told you in the light!



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