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How Long?

The Psalms in the Bible have brought comfort to countless hearts down through the ages. The Psalmist David, while having the deepest respect for His heavenly Father, has such an intimate relationship with Him that he can pose the questions why and how long during times of adversity. Sometimes respect creates distance but not in our relationship with God. Believers are viewed as children of God and can call Him Abba, Father, through the Spirit of adoption (Romans 8:15). As children, it is permissible to ask why and in so doing, we draw near to God in our time of need.

In Psalm 13, David cries out to the LORD with great anguish of heart:

How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart daily? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and hear me, O LORD my God; Enlighten my eyes, Lest I sleep the sleep of death; Lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed against him”; Lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved.

But I have trusted in Your mercy; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, Because He has dealt bountifully with me.

Four times David asks how long?

How long will God forget him? How long will He hide His face from him? Like David, we sometimes feel God is distant. Circumstances of life have changed and now we are faced with challenges we never expected. Perhaps God seems far away because we are focusing on the size of the problem rather than the magnitude of God Jehovah.

Trials and difficulties can produce mental anguish on a daily basis as David expresses in his third how long question. Another translation renders this question: How long must I wrestle with my thoughts? David is trying to solve his problems with his own reasoning and strength, which subsequently leads to heart sorrow day after day. The Bible tells us not to lean on our own understanding but to seek God's direction (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Fourthly, he asks how long his enemies will triumph over him. He has known God's victory in the past, yet at the time of writing it appears his enemies are victorious. Perhaps if God had given David immediate help, he would have quickly forgotten the Source of his deliverance. Sometimes God delays answers to make us dependent on Him.

Some of you may be asking how long is this lockdown going to last or how long before things return to normal? How long before I get my cancer treatment, or how long until my business makes a profit again? How long until I can see my loved ones? It is disconcerting when no answers are apparent. However, let us examine and learn from David's actions.

Once David turns his focus away from the problem, He asks God to give light to his eyes so he may see a way out and escape death. God will answer our cry once we leave the matter entirely in His hand. We are to cast our cares on the LORD and He will sustain us.

As David professes His trust in God's mercy, he begins to rejoice in his salvation. With God as his focal point, the troubling issues fade and his fear is replaced with joy. He recollects God's goodness to him in times past and this inspires songs of praise.

Our patience has certainly been tried over the past year and this year so far, but let us bear in mind that God is in complete control of this world. Nothing takes Him by surprise. Let us trust Him for His guidance and sustaining power. While we are waiting for answers, may we, like David, rejoice in our salvation and praise Him for His rich blessings to us.


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