This is a New Year. Over the past year, I have listened to many sermons. Many focused on the disappointments of Covid. Changes, cancellations, job loss, death-all unexpected & unwelcome.
We are not used to suffering. We are not used to death. Understandabily. It hurts.
In the middle of unforeseen tragedies, there is groaning deep inside: HOW LONG, O LORD?
Maranatha means, “Come, Lord Jesus!” I whisper this more often these days when I hear news of another strand of the virus, or of a neighbor dying from Covid, or a friend’s friend losing their child to suicide. I wonder–how long, O Lord? How long until Covid is gone? How long until You come back?
It reminds me of the Israelites wandering in the desert for forty years asking the same question. But, I also think of how they persevered in great trouble. Generations of people in history have withstood massive suffering: the Roman Empire brutality, the Black Death, religious wars in Europe, the Crusades, slavery, potato famines, the Holocaust, the French Revolution, corrupt kings, the Russians under Stalin, the Italians under Mussolini, wars, wars, and more wars.
Paul David Tripp comforts that “Scripture never looks down on the sufferer, it never mocks his pain, it never turns a deaf ear to his cries, and it never condemns him for his struggle.”
Lam. 3:22-23 states “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease. For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness.” Lovingkindness means loyal love, faithfulness based on a promise, not on performance. Since the death of my son, this verse has woken me up every morning. I awake and don’t plan to say it, but I do. I rely heavily on its promise.
How long? God’s answer: I am faithful. No time given. This year, take one day at a time. Each day with new mercy, focusing on God’s character. A challenge-choose to remember, think, speak, sing of God’s faithfulness and mercy.
We aren’t the only ones who have asked this question. This is David speaking in Ps. 13 likely during the time that his own son tried to stage a coup to overtake him:
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 all the day?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness;
My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
I will sing to the LORD,
Because He has dealt bountifully with me.