“How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts, and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, ‘I have overcome him.’
But I trust in your unfailing love, my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.”
Here we find David, a man after God’s own heart, crying out to for deliverance, freedom, and redemption, running to Jesus with his heart as it is; he didn’t try to cover up his thoughts or feelings. He let God have a piece of his mind and heart.
He didn’t understand.
He needed comfort.
He needed reassurance.
He needed to hear.
He needed to see.
He needed to feel.
He needed to know that God hadn’t forgotten him.
He needed to know that God wouldn’t hide his face from him.
He needed to know that he would not always have to wrestle with unwanted thoughts.
He needed to know that one day there would no longer be sorrow in his heart.
He needed the eyes of his heart to be enlightened.
He needed to know how long, how long it would be until he could make some sense of the broken pieces in his life.
The worst part?
God seemed to be silent– at least in that moment.
Although David knew the Lord and loved him,
He felt forgotten.
He felt abandoned.
He felt hopeless.
He felt defeated.
David is desperate for relief; from what he needs relief we are not exactly sure.
It is safe for us to assume that he is agonizing over a few things:
- Abandonment v.1
- Wresting with his sin v.2
- Lack of Joy in his heart v.3
- Lack of victory over his enemies v.3
How long, Jesus?
How long will I have to fight off lies from the enemy?
How long will my tears be my food day and night?
How long will my prayers go unanswered?
How long will I have to fight off anxiety?
How long will I be uncomfortable in my body?
How long will I feel like this?
How long will I wrestle with unhealthy thoughts?
How long will it take to break bad habits?
How long until I am a little less broken?
How long until I am free?
How long until my heart begins to believe what my mind is certain of?
How long until you will act on my behalf, & do what only you can do?
How long will I struggle with the temptation to turn back to my eating disorder?
How long will I be in recovery?
How long until I am healed?
How long until I am no longer broken-hearted?
How long until I am completely free?
How long until you come back?
How long, Jesus?
This is David’s ultimate cry. This is our heart’s cry: Jesus, when will you make this all right? When is it all going to make sense? When will you return?
David doesn’t try to minimize it or diminish it. He expresses his pain. He cries out in anguish. He brings his raw and real emotions before the creator of the universe. He is simply asking with an earnest heart, and he doesn’t immediately hear back from God, & so often we don’t either.
In the time waiting, David shifts his focus and proclaims, “But I trust in your unfailing love, my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise for he has been good to me.” v. 5-6
In other words:
Even when it hurts, I will praise you.
Even when nothing makes sense, I will trust you.
Even when I am sorrowful, I take heart in the joy of my salvation.
Even when I face trials, I will praise your name.
Even when I don’t immediately hear from you, I will choose to believe in your unfailing love.
David didn’t know how long, & neither do we.
But God didn’t abandoned David, & he doesn’t abandoned us.
In his own timing, wisdom, understanding, & sovereign hand, God delivered David from his enemies. He forgave his sins. He brought forth joy in his heart. He walked in victory.
Through his blood came the awaited messiah, our savior, redeemer, deliverer, and peace in the time waiting.
It’s okay to ask how long.
Wrestling with the “how long” reminds us that this world isn’t our home. It’s a reminder of our desperate need for Jesus each day. It’s a reminder of how truly great the good news of the gospel is. The gospel that saves us from it all. Even with a broken heart, weary soul, anxious mind, and lacking ability, we can move into a place where we rejoice in our salvation and trust Jesus even when it doesn’t all make sense. We can move from “how long” to “this won’t last forever”.
We can freely say:
We trust you.
We trust your promises.
We trust that you are good.
We trust your ability to heal, to redeem, to show grace, to provide, to keep your promises, to be with us always, to deliver us, and to finish the good work that you have started in our lives, to make sense of our suffering; we trust in your timing & let go of the burdensome “how longs” that so often rule our minds.