How long, O Lord?
The question has burdened my heart and escaped my lips at different times throughout my short life. The more life I’ve lived, the more groaning these utterances have become. How long, O Lord, will my heart long for a husband? When will this grief over my miscarriage consume me? How long, O Lord, will the darkness of depression steal my joy?
I have often thought that suffering would be much easier to endure if we could set an egg timer. Four more years and he will walk into your life, and he will be worth every tear. One more year, and I will replace your sobs of grief with shouts of joy with the sweetest little boy. Two more months until this dark cloud lifts and you feel like yourself again.
However, the timing of our suffering is known by the Lord, but so often hidden from us. We are left here to trust him as he works all things together for his glorious purposes (Romans 8:28) — and the thought of him working those things together is supposed to bring us comfort.
That should be especially true during this time of year where we’re reminded of the Cross and how it eliminates all of our grief and sorrow and answers all of our longings! Right?
But what if the egg timer doesn’t go off in time for Resurrection Sunday? What if the hope still seems to be a long time coming?
You Are Not Alone
It often feels like if we’re suffering, we must not be saved. Saved people don’t experience heartache or pain. They don’t experience longing or desire. They don’t experience disappointment or disillusionment. The truth has set them free from all of those things. Wrong.
I know all too well the guilt of having less than positive emotions about the suffering and waiting that takes place in my life. Somehow, I forget how God’s people were enslaved in Egypt for 400 years and wandered in the desert for forty years, waiting to enter the Promised Land (Numbers 32:13). They languished in Babylonian captivity for seventy years, waited from Genesis to Matthew for their Messiah, and creation has been groaning for his return for over two thousand years (Romans 8:22).
We are not alone in our wait for relief.
God’s people have been waiting almost since the dawn of time.
Tale As Old As Time
But not quite since time’s dawning, because, in the beginning, there was no reason to wait. Adam had everything he could ever need or want in the garden. Suffering had not yet invaded the world.
Three chapters into Genesis, sin enters God’s perfect creation, and the waiting game begins:
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
And between your offspring and her offspring;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise his heel
Just like that, two people who had never had to long for anything were set to long for eternal things for the rest of their lives. No longer could their lives here on earth bring ultimate satisfaction and purpose. They would have to die to enter the glory of which they’d only experienced a foretaste. And the only way they would be able to take part in that glory is by the seed of the woman crushing the head of the serpent and bruising his heel in the process.
So they waited. And as they waited for Christ, they realized that this wait would give birth to all kinds of waiting: waiting for justice for the murder of the innocent, waiting for new life to come from barren wombs, waiting for captives to be set free from slavery, and waiting for mourning to give way to joy. These little waits were just echoes of the big wait — the big longing — that could only be fulfilled by the coming of a Savior.
Living In Light of the Savior
Our Savior has, indeed, come. Because of Christ’s death and resurrection, we know that the pain and suffering of this life pales in comparison to the weight of the glory that lies ahead. We know that the problems we face here pale in comparison to the conquering power of the blood of the Messiah. We know that Jesus has answered every single worry or care we could ever possess by bringing us into the family of faith.
[clickToTweet tweet=”While our eternal home is perfect & secure, this world is full of reminders that this isn’t home.” quote=”While our eternal home is perfect & secure, this world is full of reminders that this isn’t home.”]
Amen! Hallelujah! Praise Jehovah!
Our wait is not quite over. Our work here on earth is not done. Because, though Christ has come in power and conquered death, and though our heavenly home is secure when he enables us to believe on and trust in him, we still have work to do earthside, for his glory. And life as sojourners is not always easy.
The Beauty Of The Cross
How long, O Lord?
As believers, our question has changed from, “how long, O Lord, until you come?” — to “how long, O Lord, until you come again?” It is not until he comes again that all suffering will cease. And, until that day, we have to continuously remind ourselves that not only is suffering symptomatic of living far from our heavenly home — but also, that Christ cares. His grace is sufficient for us — his power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Our Easter celebration is two-fold. On the one hand, we rejoice in the relief of knowing that Jesus has paid it all; he has come to save us from our sin, as well as the just punishment for that sin. He has interceded for us and paved the way for us to be adopted as children of God! And, on the other hand, we acknowledge that we are still waiting for him to come again and complete the work that has been started.
[clickToTweet tweet=”There is hope for the suffering on Resurrection Sunday, because our God cares, hears, and sees.” quote=”There is hope for the suffering on Resurrection Sunday, because our God cares, hears, and sees.”]
We recognize that, while our eternal home is perfect and secure, our earthly home is full of reminders that we do not belong here. We trust that we serve a God who cares — a God who hears, a God who sees. There is hope for the suffering on Resurrection Day. This hope may not be met with our hardships neatly tied off with a bow in our past. And that’s okay. We can still apply the truth of Resurrection Sunday to our suffering, through tears, if necessary, but always in the hope that he who began a good work will complete it in his perfect time (Philippians 1:6).