How Long?

iStock_000002413323XSmallWaiting is hard.

This statement probably doesn’t catch anybody by surprise. After all, despite the fact that parents and teachers try to help us learn to wait at an early age, most of us still have a hard time with patience. The more important something is to us, the harder it is to wait. It used to be we had to learn to wait our turn (sometimes we may still struggle with this) or wait patiently for what seemed like the eternal road trip to come to an end; as adults we wait for far weightier things. A job that we just can’t find. The  baby that we’ve longed for. Peace from family squabbles. We wait. And sometimes that wait seems just as long as that road trip that never seemed to come to an end. The longing seems inconsolable. The void vast. And we wonder – how long will it last? When will our endurance reach its conclusion?

It’s not a new question. Do a quick concordance search and you will find that throughout the Bible people are asking God,  “How long?” Rarely does He provide a timetable for His work (There are a few exceptions to this such as the Israelites being enslaved by Egypt (Gen. 15:13)  or their time spent wandering in the desert (Num. 14:34)). Instead, godly people from David to to Job to Habbakuk are left to wonder how long their particular trial and uncertainty will last. Their pleas seem to go unanswered. Their pain unassuaged. The end seemingly nowhere in sight.

And so it is with us. 

Yet, from the prolonged patience of those who have gone before, we can learn a proper response to our insatiable wait. In Psalm 13 as David writes about one of his periods of patience, he asks the Lord how long it will last. He lays out all the potential harm that has resulted from what may seem like a delayed response. But he concludes with these words:

But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. 

I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me. (Ps. 13:5-6)

Did you notice what he did there?


He looked back and remembered God’s faithfulness in the past.

He looked future and committed to continued praise.

 

In other words, as David waited for an answer, as he waited for relief, he recalled how God had been faithful in the past, knowing that the same God who had delivered him before would do so again. And although he was not given an answer to his question of “how long” his enemies’ pursuit would last, it didn’t change his commitment to how he would respond to his Lord. He was committed to praise. In the midst of his waiting, he would worship.

And in the midst of our waiting, so should we.

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