“How much longer until dinner, mama”? My little girl asks, her one foot on the pedal and the other touching the floor, hands on the brakes, her body tilted, so she could get a glimpse of me through the door ajar. I shrug my shoulder and starts my list… before I finish, she pedals away. She just wanted to know. She did not want to miss dinner. she cannot stand when nothing is happening or when somethings that is happening demands her patience. She is not comfortable making her body still and to wait under my eyes. She has learnt to run away or pedal away.
Soul has an uncomfortable twitch in tarrying. Try messing with the virtue of tarrying- you get a run away soul!
When you know you want to stop running and to face the enemy head on, there is only one way. Stand on that threshold as if nailed to it, then look up to say, “how long O Lord?”
Calvin’s favorite exclamation was “Domine Usquequo?” -“O Lord, How long?”
When time is the tyrant and the weapon he uses is uncertainty, my soul suffocates under the barricade of hopelessness and the only way out I see is to cry out, “how long O God?”
The “how long” can transform the soul that wants to run, to the soul that asks for the timing of God.When I ask “how long?”, I want to know waiting and suffering has an end marked. I want to have the assurance that I will not perish but will see my redeemer and the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Why “How Long” is Good
To ask “how long?” you need to stop and you need to wait, put your hands on the brakes and tilt your body to get a glimpse of God to ask.
1.Though momentarily, it ushers in a discipline of waiting and seeking.
The first thing to go out the window, when going through a prolonged trial where there is no end in sight, is the hope in God. Spending time with God or meditating on His promises seem pointless at times, to a soul subjected to constant oppression. There are times when all I was able to do was to look up and say, “How long, O God? How long before you vindicate me? How long till you prove my innocence?” While going through a dark season in my life, some days I had the energy only to pray “How Long O God?”. Thats all… But I consider that faith, when in the midst of raging fire.
2.Asking “How long?” will bring you to face your pain and brokenness and lift it before God.
The easiest way to get thru suffering is to forget the pain. No body wants to unpack the details of pain. Out of sight, out of mind. You have substance abuse and addicts because people want to forget pain. There is nothing pleasant about pain. But healing comes through facing pain with God and not ignoring pain. It takes courage to unpack the wounds, but the great Physician is right there with healing in His wings.
3.Asking “How long?” will help you depend on God and lets him know that He is your only hope.
I have a tendency for self sufficiency and that tendency is more during times of darkness. I want to pretty much find a solution when God seems to be silent. Depending on God when help is absent, and God remaining silent through it, is not easy for me. Yet, the scriptures tells me, apart from me you can’t do anything. Remain in me and you will bear much fruit John 15:5. When I ask “how long?”, I depend on my God and let him know that I don’t have any self sufficiency of my own, that I am remaining on him, and dependent on Him.
4.It helps your runaway soul experience the refreshing engagement with a refueling God.
Dark seasons in life can be survived only with the promises of God. The promises give us hope. They help us know we will not be destroyed in the midst of this affliction. They constantly give us something to hold on to when we are hanging by a thread. Promises are a way God refuels us when we are running on empty.
Two People in the Bible Who Asked “How Long?”
The book of Habakkuk opens with a “How long?” Habakkuk wanted to know how long before God finally listens to him. Habakuk was concerned about people’s lack of love for God and the injustice that he saw around. God answers Habakkuk by telling him things are only going to get worse, but hang on, I have a promise for you.
My righteous shall live by faith.
David was on the run…but somewhere his soul stopped running and learned to ask these “how longs”-
The painful question “How long?” is asked at least sixteen times in the Psalms (6:3; 13:1–2; 35:17; 62:3; 74:9–10; 79:5; 80:4; 82:2; 89:46; 90:13; 94:3).
In the “how long?” of our life, things can get better or things can get worse. Regardless of the outcome, God wants his people to realize, that His righteous always live by faith.
Both these people asked God the question “How Long?” Though things around them did not change instantly, their perspective changed and they were able to allow God what He was doing and tarry under the eyes of the all knowing God even when things that were happening demanded their patience and their all.