“How much longer?” It’s a valid question. I asked it aplenty traveling in the car as a little girl. We lived on an acreage on the outskirts of a very small town for half of my childhood. We had to drive to get anywhere - including church which was 20 miles away. We were there every time the doors were open and drove that commute hundreds of times.
A lot happened in those 20 miles. That was before cell phones, Facebook, Instagram, and built-in DVD players helped pass the time. We actually looked out the window and enjoyed the view! We counted telephone poles, played the Alphabet Game (using the letters of road signs to get from A-Z), and tried to get semis to honk at us while passing them.
There were times when those 20 miles flew by and other times when it felt like we would never reach our destination! In those weak moments of my childhood’s patience, understanding, and reasoning I would wonder and whine, “How much longer?”
I’ve found myself in a season of wondering the same thing when a strange sickness came upon my husband back in January and an unrelenting fever stayed. I’ve gone through waves of the days being difficult, exhausting, and lonely.
On the onset, I found great comfort in James 1:2 which says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”
I was determined to keep my joy through the trial and stayed strong for weeks. And then…I got sick too. As many know, sick mother’s don’t get the luxury of resting and recovering when there are children to raise and households to manage. I suffered a low-grade fever for more than three weeks (on top of my husband being sick) before I finally reached my breaking point. In my weariness I whined, “How much longer?”
Something had shifted in my perspective. Instead of “fixing my eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2), I had gotten distracted by the sickness that just. wouldn’t. leave. I was discouraged.
On the last Wednesday of February - during my Morning Devotion - I came across Psalm 13. It wrenched on my brokenness and tears gushed from my eyes. I could all but hear David screaming at the heavens:
1How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
3Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4and my enemy will say, "I have overcome him,"
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
"I don’t want to do this anymore!" my soul cried out. Enough was enough! I grabbed the case and took out my violin. After I had tuned it, I brought it to my shoulder and was about to commence my slow, miserable song when the Lord interrupted my pity party.
He gently nudged me to, "keep reading!" My eyes fell to the next two verses:
5But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.
Suddenly the tears of brokenness become tears of beauty. He revealed Himself to me in that moment and I felt His presence suffocating me in the best kind of way. That same "unfailing love" David had experienced breached thousands of generations and rested on me! I looked over my shoulder and saw the wake of His amazing, unending, never-changing grace! He hadn’t failed me. He hadn’t abandoned me. On the contrary, He had been good to me.
I was reminded that friends had called, texted, and stopped by. There were special deliveries of groceries and bread, milk, and bananas. There was homemade soup, cards in the mail, hugs in the hallway, and countless prayers prayed on our behalf.
I put my hypothetical violin down and crawled into the safe arms of my Father. There (and only there) was I going to get through this season of sickness with my joy intact. He answered my desperate cry of “How long?” when I came across Revelations 3:11: "I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown."
I was to simply "Hold on."
I was to be that little girl in the car all over again and look out the window - safe and dry - as my Daddy drove me through a storm.
I was to hold onto the promise of God that He would never leave me and never forsake me (Hebrews 13:5). He was faithful. He was good. I could trust Him.
As you are reading this, I want you to know that it is OK to admit when things hurt or are hard. That only makes you human! I also want you to know that in order to overcome those things that hurt or are hard, you need someone stronger than yourself. You need the One who “sustains all things by his powerful word.” (Hebrews 1:3) You need the Name “that is above every name.” (Philippians 2:9) You need Jesus!
Jesus said in John 16:33b, "Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world."
In the seasons of "How long?", let's be found simply holding on.