How Long, Lord?

We are given no signs from God; no prophets are left, and none of us knows how long this will be. —Psalm 74:9 NIV

Sometimes life is hard. Well, actually, life is often hard. It seems 2020 has brought one crisis after another—and the future can look bleak. In my personal life, several dear ones are going through really hard times: cancer, infertility, divorce, broken relationships. My heart aches for each individual, and I remember times when my own heart felt like a frozen tundra with no sign of warmth or life or hope. It seemed like winter would last forever.

You know one of the hardest things about a hard time? Not knowing how long it will last. Yeah. Asaph, the writer of Psalm 74, says it very well. “We are given no signs from God; no prophets are left, and none of us knows how long this will be” (v.9).

We often say to God, “If only You could tell me how long I have to endure this and how it will end, I could go on with courage. I don’t know whether this crisis will last another week or ten years or … forever. I hate this uncertainty, and I long for better days.”

Reflecting on these times, here are a few ways Asaph teaches us to cope as he wrote a heart-rending song, inspired by God, that became Bible: Psalm 74.

  • Be honest with God. “O God, why have you rejected us forever? Why does your anger smolder against the sheep of your pasture?” Asaph laments in verse 1. You can feel his despondency, and, as is often the case with depression, the heaviness feels like it will never end. We have a tendency to walk away and sulk when God seems silent. How hard it is to open His Word when we expect disappointment. Again. And yet, this is exactly what we must do. Talk with God through prayer and the Word. Tell Him how we feel. Putting it into words clarifies it in our minds, and starts the conversation with God in honesty. Asaph was great at being honestly unhappy with God!
  • Acknowledge that God is not doing what you want. “Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand? Take it from the folds of your garment and destroy them!” writes a frustrated Asaph in verse 11. He knows God is big enough, strong enough, mighty enough to defeat those destroying Israel, and yet he pictures God keeping His hands in His pockets. Sometimes God does not move, even when we beg Him. This is the reality. Mary and Martha begged Jesus to come and heal their sick brother, and He delayed. David asked God to spare his son’s life, and God did not. Let’s not mince words. God does not always act the way we wish. He’s not a genie in a bottle that we can rub and get our way. We need to acknowledge that, and still talk to Him about it.
  • Remember who God is and praise Him. “But God is my King from long ago; he brings salvation on the earth,” Asaph admits in the very next verse. Regardless of what is going on in Asaph’s world, God is still King. God is still Asaph’s King. God is still the One who brings salvation to the earth. Asaph turns his eyes from the problem to the One he still trusts, despite the bleakness of his situation. If you continue reading Psalm 74, you will see how he reminds himself of God’s goodness and greatness. We need to do this especially during those times when we don’t see God moving. Our present difficulties do not change the innate nature of a good and loving God. Period. Faith is restored when we remember this.
  • Continue coming to God no matter how long it takes. “Rise up, O God, and defend your cause,” pleads Asaph at the end of his lament (v.22a). He still asks. He still seeks. He still trusts. He goes to the only One who can fix it. Even though the fixing is taking a very long time and the wait seems interminable.

The God who created seasons will not allow a “winter” to last forever. Really. No matter how horrible your season is, dear one, it will end. One day, the temperature will shift just a bit and the ice will begin to thaw. To your amazement, green sprouts and leaves and buds of flowers will return again to the barrenness of your heart. Don’t turn away from the God of all comfort. Run to Him with every thought and every feeling. Remember He is good and He loves you deeply. Keep asking and keep seeking. It won’t be in vain. I think Asaph would agree.

Dear God, there are times when, like Asaph, I feel lost and alone and unmoored. I feel hurt and abandoned by You, God, even though I know that cannot be true—You are everywhere all the time. Help me in those dark times to always run to You. To trust You even when I don’t feel You. To cling to You with all that’s in me. And, more importantly, Lord, please cling to me. Don’t let go of my hand, dear God. Walk with me each day, every day, in the good times and the bad. I need You and I want You close. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Note: This Musing was originally titled “And None of Us Knows” and is a repeat from August 2017. We feel that it is worth presenting again, updated for us as we walk through hard times in 2020. What a year. May these words be an encouragement to you. You can also find this devotional in Sharon’s book, Sweet Selah Moments, on page 65.

You are loved,
Sharon

 

 

Sweet Selah Ministries

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To inspire a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth of God’s Word that stillness and knowing
Him matter most—and will be reflected in more effective work and service

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and love God more deeply as they know Him more intimately (Sweet)

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8 Responses to “How Long, Lord?”

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  1. Lori Bell says:

    Thank you, dear Sharon! Very timely words that speak truth and encouragement
    to my heart.

    • Sharon Gamble says:

      Hello Lori,

      So very thankful it was helpful. We scoured our older blogs to find the ones that best "fit" today's uncertainties. Love you!

  2. Margaret Fowler says:

    Thank you for a timely message. A good reminder and comfort.

  3. This is the hardest thing for me, to keep on waiting when I've not heard a word from the Lord. I tend to worry and panic because I feel like I've lost him, but I know that's not true, He said himself that He would never leave me, and my heart knows that He speaks only the truth. So I've stopped worrying and am just going to continue to pray to my Lord and Savior, and wait till He speaks to me again. I love my Lord.

    • Sharon Gamble says:

      I love that you love the Lord, Joyce, even when He seems silent. Waiting on Him is hard, but the wait is always, always worth it!

  4. Bonnie kenyon says:

    I have a plaque that hangs in my kitchen which reads, “I believe in the sun even when it is not shining, l believe in love even when I don’t feel it and l believe in God even when He is silent.” Words to live by when we have turmoil and unrest in our world. I have come to know eventually God breaks His silence.

    • Sharon Gamble says:

      I have always loved that quote, Bonnie! Yes. He is always, always with us. Omnipresent. Even when He is silent and He does, eventually, speak to us, too. Amen. ... and I know He has good purposes for us even when it is silent. He is good. So, so good.

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