how long oh lord?

Are you familiar with the cry – How long oh Lord? I am…

After the birth of my fourth baby I suffered a trauma induced case of Bell’s Palsy. When my daughter was only 5 days old, the right side of my face froze. I was told it might last 2 weeks, 2 years or could even be permanent. It looked like I had suffered a stroke, but I hadn’t. It meant I couldn’t feel my mouth or control my tongue very well. My right eye wouldn’t close on its own. I was in constant pain; it was extremely uncomfortable and embarrassing as I couldn’t talk or eat properly. I couldn’t even smile at my newborn baby, or cry without difficultly. But I cried out how long oh Lord? How long will I suffer?

Those words echo all around us. Perhaps even more so in this season. How long will life be like this? How long will our suffering last? How long before life returns to “normal”? Or perhaps you’ve echoed these words before, when facing the pain of loss, or the loneliness that pierces your soul, or the rejection that wreaks havoc with your heart. I too am familiar with these places of questioning.

During my season of trauma, I found myself often in the Psalms. For me there was much comfort there as I read words that my own aching heart could have written. One such Psalm was Psalm 13.

1 O LORD, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? 2. How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand? 3. Turn and answer me, O LORD my God! Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die. 4. Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!” Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall. 5. But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. 6. I will sing to the LORD because he is good to me. (Psalm 13 NLT)

Here we read David crying out to the Lord during his time in the desert. During his season of desperation, he cries out, “How long oh Lord?” He had sorrow in his heart daily and was struggling with anguish. I could’ve written those feelings down…

That prompted me to look into David’s life and the context of his time in the desert. I discovered that he had been on the run from Saul for 8yrs. Hiding out in caves in the desert as Saul wanted to kill him. David had already been anointed king nearly 13yrs earlier, so why the delay? I asked the Lord why so long? Why did your chosen one have to endure so much heartache and desert time? The answer was swift to my soul “Look at what I did through him during that season” OH MY GOODNESS! Without David’s suffering we wouldn’t have the comfort of the Psalms.

Can I be bold and say, that what God does in and through you because of your season of suffering is of far greater value than the time spent in that season.

But notice he didn’t stop there, in the anguish and questioning. As we keep reading, we can see a change in his heart. From being overwhelmed with sorrow and desperate for relief, we see him make a choice to trust God. Despite his situation and suffering he remembered the unfailing love of God. From there he was able to declare the goodness of God.  

My trauma with Bell’s Palsy lasted nearly four months. I learnt through that time that God will always answer you. When you have nothing left, when you feel alone, trapped with no way out, lost in the desert, wandering with no hope, that is where God reveals Himself. In the dark and lonely times God remains.

We too have the choice, just as David did. We can choose to remember the faithfulness of God’s love and that His goodness never ends. We can choose to remember that He has rescued us before and will rescue us again, no matter how we are feeling in the moment. I cried out how long oh Lord and He whispered, “I am with you.” His answer was the comfort my soul needed. It may not always be the answer we want; however, when He whispers to our soul, it will always be the answer we need.

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