How Long, O Lord?
D.A. Carson begins his book “How long, O Lord?” with two stories that sent chills down my spine the first time that I read it. The first is of pastor that is cutting his front lawn. He looks up from his task just in time to see a heavy dump truck back out of his neighbour’s driveway—right over the neighbour’s eighteen-month-old son, who had been squatting behind the huge tires. The pastor accompanies the hysterical mother and ashen father to the hospital in the ambulance. There is no hope for the little boy; he has been crushed almost beyond recognition.
The second is about a rural family with six children, four of them are have haemophilia, and they serve the Lord with joy and discipline. Then the HIV epidemic hits. Unknown to doctors and patients alike, the nation’s blood supply is contaminated. The four sons with hemophilia must constantly tap into that supply. Two are infected with HIV, develop AIDS and are dead within three years. The third also tested HIV-positive; it was only a matter of time before he exhibited clinical symptoms, developed AIDS, and died. The fourth, age thirty, himself the father of three, refused to be tested, but he knew that the chances were overwhelming that he too was infected, and that he wouls shortly leave his wife a widow and his children fatherless. He has almost no insurance, and no insurer would now give him the time of day.
In both cases Carson proceeded to ask the age old question: Where is God?
All of us have gone through a time in our lives where we asked “Where is God?” All of us have asked of God “How long do we still have to wait, o Lord”. It may be that you are in a place in your life where you are asking these questions right now. Wondering how long your own hardship and suffering will still last before God heeds your prayers?
If this happens to you, or better yet, when this happens to you, know that this has happened to others. David, the man after God’s own heart, had this same experience. He describes it in Psalm 13. David asks these same questions of God: How long will you still forget me? How long will you still hide your face from me? How long must I carry this sorrow in my heart and how long will the enemy still triumph over me? Remember that David was someone who knew the Lord intimately and had seen God do incredible miracles in his life. This was not a man of little faith. Yet he experienced severe trauma and heartache. I take heart from this, since it is clearly ok to ask these questions from God. As a pastor I have seen many who feel guilty about asking these questions. Please don’t!! We can ask these questions of God at any time.
The wonderful message of this Psalm comes at the end, when David declares that he will still trust in the unfailing love of God and that his heart will rejoice in his salvation. He also declares that he will sing the Lords praise as the Lord has been good to him. It is clear that the Lord intervened in his life and brought joy, salvation and restoration as he always does. In times of hardship we have to trust that God will be faithful as he always has been! Why are spouses not always faithful in their marriages? Why are babies born prematurely and pass away? Why are children born with HIV? I do not have the answer to any of these situations I recently dealt with. All I know in times like that, is that the Lord will always be faithful. It really is all we can trust in.
I recently had the wonderful privilege of listening to a pastor’s gripping testimony. His daughter committed suicide about seven years ago and the family was devastated. He told us in detail about the pain and agony they went through in that time. I cannot imagine their pain. At the end, however, he shared that they as a family got through the hardship and suffering and are now leading a normal life. He admitted that not a day goes by without him thinking about his daughter, but he can now do so with peace, because with time the Lord has healed their broken hearts.
So my message to you today is simple. If you are going through heartache, please do not feel bad or guilty if you ask the Lord why or how long. But know this. He will be faithful and He will bring peace and restoration. He, the Alpha and Omega, always has and always will!
To think about: Remember the words of Ralph W. Emerson “All I have seen teaches me to trust the creator for all I have not seen.”