Sunday, November 11, 2012

How Long?

My soul also is greatly troubled; But You, O LORD--how long? Return, O LORD, deliver me! Oh, save me for Your mercies' sake!
Psalm 6:3-4 NKJV

From the number of commentaries I have read this past week in the aftermath of our election, it appears I may not be alone in praying this prayer of David from the book of Psalms. As I watched events unfold Tuesday night I could not help but remember Jesus describing the last days as resembling the “Days of Noah” in Matthew 24. One question that has always puzzled me about the days of Noah is the fact that it would appear they had absolutely no clue that their actions were an offense to the God of the universe, or if they did, they somehow believed God would allow their offenses to go unpunished.

It follows then that this past week my thoughts concerning our country and it's leaders somehow began to remind me of this same question. Does the majority of this nation actually believe their decisions do not offend God, or do they simply believe God will do nothing to show His displeasure? On the other hand, the more I read the more it appears that many believers are of the opinion that God has indeed already begun to remind us that He alone is omnipotent and is perfectly willing to judge those who offend Him. Yet, like David, it's hard not to ask God...”how long”?

Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end [intended by] the Lord--that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.
James 5:11 NKJV

Personally, what helps me the most is the knowledge of “the end intended by the Lord”. David may have prayed to the Lord expressing his sorrows and frustrations, but he always ended by acknowledging the fact that he knew God was faithful. I have often shared that I enjoy studying the life of David because while God described him as a “man after my own heart”, it is also obvious that David suffered from the same emotions we often do and was perfectly willing to share them with God.

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. 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 daily? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
Psalm 13:1-2 NKJV

We as believers should not be shy about sharing our sorrow and frustrations with God because after all, doesn't He already know what we are feeling?

Nevertheless He regarded their affliction, When He heard their cry; And for their sake He remembered His covenant, And relented according to the multitude of His mercies.
Psalm 106:44-45 NKJV

One of the most reassuring things about God is the fact that He is always faithful to answer our cries and to demonstrate His mercy towards His people. I have always enjoyed having my daughters ask me for help, and even now that they are grown and living elsewhere it still is nice to get a call and be asked to do something that is helpful in some way. Do you really believe God is so busy that He doesn't want to hear from us when we need some help? Ask and see just how faithful our God is.

Lord, how long will You look on? Rescue me from their destructions, My precious [life] from the lions. I will give You thanks in the great assembly; I will praise You among many people.
Psalm 35:17-18 NKJV

Of course David well knew that when God provided, He alone was due the glory and the thanks. What better witness could we have but to give God the glory when He delivers us.

Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,to whom [be] glory forever and ever. Amen.
Galations 1:3-5 NKJV

What better to help us endure than the knowledge that God promises to deliver us from this “present evil age”.

O God, how long will the adversary reproach? Will the enemy blaspheme Your name forever? Why do You withdraw Your hand, even Your right hand? [Take it] out of Your bosom and destroy [them].
Psalm 74:10-11 NKJV

Just as David knew God had the power to judge and destroy His enemies, so we too have the knowledge that while it looks as if we are losing the battle, God will avenge Himself upon those who turn their backs on Him.

The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken in pieces; From heaven He will thunder against them. The LORD will judge the ends of the earth. "He will give strength to His king, And exalt the horn of His anointed."
1 Samuel 2:10 NKJV

Is it wrong to be impatient while waiting for God's return? While we know that God will do His work in His own time, David certainly had no problem expressing the difficulty he felt while waiting.

Return, O LORD! How long? And have compassion on Your servants. Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy, That we may rejoice and be glad all our days!
Psalm 90:13-14 NKJV

While we look at what is going on all around us and wonder why God is waiting, we should never forget that He loves those who sin against Him and is compassionate towards them with a patience we cannot begin to comprehend.

The LORD [is] gracious and full of compassion, Slow to anger and great in mercy. The LORD [is] good to all, And His tender mercies [are] over all His works.
Psalm 145:8-9 NKJV

I find it surprising that even in Heaven, during the coming time of judgment on this earth, the feeling of impatience and cry for vengeance will be heard from those who have been killed for their faith.

And they cried with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?"
Revelation 6:10 NKJV

What does God expect from us during this time of waiting? I think it revealing that in this passage from Luke we find that Jesus asks a very unusual question.

"And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? "I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?"
Luke 18:7-8 NKJV

At some point this past week did the thought occur to you that we should just give up? We are losing the fight so why bother anymore? David never gave up although at times it looks like he believed the entire world was against him. Yet David knew God was faithful to fulfil His promises because he never asked "if" God was going to act, only "how long" until He would act, and we should know that as well. Although it may appear that we are fighting a losing battle, the battle is not over until the Son of Man comes to take us away. Will He find faith? Why would He ask that question unless some would be tempted to give up?  If He promises to be faithful to us, is it too much to ask for us to be faithful to Him?

Keep watching.