Perhaps some of the most passionate and poignant words in all of Scripture, David cries out, "How long, O Lord?" How long will my enemies press against me? How long will the unrighteous prosper? How long will it seem like the powers and principalities of this world are winning? How long, O Lord, until You show yourself?
The reason these words so resonate with us is because they touch something deep inside of our own souls, something very human. We all want a God who shows up when we call on Him, a God who strikes down the wicked, a God who establishes the victory, a God who does what He says He's going to do and who is who He says that He is. At our very core, we want our God to be God, and our waiting hearts hear these words - how long, O Lord - and we know that ache.
And yet, they are words that we hardly ever say ourselves, words that barely come to mind, let alone come off our own lips.
We are a people less bold than David, unwilling or perhaps unable to cry out these very words, even though we feel them in the depths of our very souls. We want what we want, and we want it now, and there's no such thing as waiting in our world. No such thing as longing in our hearts.
We live a faith of instant gratification, and when God doesn't show up when we expect Him to or in the exact way that we have prayed or when it doesn't seem like God is the God that He says that He is right now, we just quit. We're done.
Either we give up praying for the thing that we're praying for or we give up on God altogether, determining that He's not actually the God that He says that He is, not a Lord who cares about us at all, not listening to us or hearing our prayer, and perhaps He's even a selfish and domineering God who only does what He wants when He wants to and we get neither a say nor a warning.
Still, there is something in our hearts that holds onto this, something that refuses to give up even when our hope has hardened, something that still does and always will resonate with these raw, agonizing, painful and poignant words of David - how long, O Lord?
How much longer?
How much longer must we live as a people whose God seems far off, whose rescue seems far away, whose healing seems long in coming? How much longer must we fight our own battles, waiting on You to show up and do something God-like, almost like You love us or something (You know, the way You said that You do)? How much harder must we pray? How much more fervent must we be? How much longer must we hold onto hope that doesn't seem to be getting us anywhere, hope that's holding on but wearing out?
We are a weary people. How long, O Lord?
Eh, never mind. Just forget it.
I prayed once, and God didn't answer me right away. I asked, begged, pleaded with tears in my eyes, but I didn't get what I wanted. I cried out, and I was just left crying. Hope? Ha. This God is not who He says He is...because He doesn't seem to know who I am. I am faithful. I am hopeful. I am a Christian, for crying out loud, and I'm entitled...entitled...to His grace, to His provision, to His presence, to His answer. Not that that matters to Him. Not that He seems to care. I prayed once, and this God - your God because He's no longer my God...He didn't answer me.
So I'm done.
Except for this one little echo in my soul that won't let go, this one little whisper that can't give up, this one little hope that even in my anger, even in my self-righteousness, even in my angst won't die.
How long, O Lord?
How much longer?