I stepped on the scale, optimistic this day would be the day when I liked the 3-digit number on the scale. For the past week, I ate well, worked out, and tracked my calories. I’d avoided the enemy (those evil carbohydrates) and drank plenty of water.
Up 1.7 pounds. Again. What’s the point? I failed again. How long, O Lord?
For years and years and years, I’ve tried to make changes to my health and wellness. I’ve done every eating plan under the sun and tried every workout routine. Sometimes I do well and consistently do what I’m supposed to do. Other times I’m hit and miss. But every time the number on the scale stays around the same.
What is it for you?
- You’re in your mid-30’s and all your friends are married. When’s it going to be your turn and your time? Always a bridesmaid and never a bride. How long, O Lord?
- You watch all your friends welcome their second and third and fourth children into the world and you and your wife would like to get pregnant one time. If you hear one more couple say they weren’t even really trying you might throw up. Or cry. How long, O Lord?
- You’ve been through a recovery ministry to deal with your addiction – choose the flavor – it doesn’t matter which one. You can’t seem to say no. And you’re beyond tired of battling every day. How long, O Lord?
- All you want is a decent marriage. It doesn’t need to be perfect, just decent. You’re tired of trying the date nights, meetings, accountability, and servant-hearted mindset. Just one time could he help out around the house or could she initiate sexually? How long, O Lord?
If you ask this question, “How long, O Lord?”, you’re not alone. We’ve all asked it, and we’re in good company. A common denominator for every one of us human beings is the frustration we experience when we want change, and it just won’t happen.
The last thing I want to do is to invalidate what you’re walking through or minimize the frustration and fatigue you’re experiencing. Fortunately for you and me, God answers the question “How long, O Lord?” and helps us know how to walk through seasons when we feel like God doesn’t see us, doesn’t care, or even that He forgot your name.
In Psalm 13, King David, probably written before he even was king, asked this question several times.
1 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
4 lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
6 I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.
In the entire book of Psalms (all 150 of them), the writers ask “How long, O Lord?” 22 times. But in Psalm 13:1-2 alone, David asks this question four times.
In these six, short verses, we see David’s outward questions (v.1-2), his inward despair (v.3-4), and his upward confidence (v.5-6). His honesty refreshes me and makes me realize I’m not alone. And you’re not either. Even when it feels like the enemy is winning and all hope is lost, David helps restore the confidence in God we need as we walk through ‘How long’ seasons.
There’s no secret sauce or three steps I can offer to you to help you in the ‘How long’ seasons. All I can offer is what David gives to us in v.5-6. We need to: (1) trust in His steadfast love, (2) rejoice in our salvation, and (3) sing to the Lord, for he has been kind to us and dealt with us bountifully. We don’t deserve His love, salvation, or kindness to us, so we must choose to remember.
Let’s get practical – how can we remember when we so quickly forget? Below I share eight ways you and I can remember His love and kindness to us:
1. Read God’s Word
Every day I make it a habit to read the Word and be reminded of how much He loves us. If you don’t know where/how to start, here are a few great resources to check out:
- Join the Journey – The Journey is a daily, guided reading plan that we put together at Watermark Community Church.
- Women of the Word, by Jen Wilkin – Yes, I know it’s called Women of the Word, but trust me – it’s a great read for women AND men.
- Living by the Book, by the late Dr. Howard “Prof” Hendricks. I love this book and believe it’s a great place to start for anyone who wants to know how to read the Bible.
I never want to get over or take my salvation for granted. Thank God for His gift of salvation, not by works, but solely as a gift He gives to those who believe and trust in Him. It’s so easy to forget what He’s done, and how He makes those who believe alive when we deserve to be dead in our transgressions (read Ephesians 2:1-10).
3. Journal/Thankfulness journal
Most days I journal/write out what God is teaching me. I don’t spend a long time writing, but every day I write something, and this process often reminds me of His goodness to me. For instance, on the day I’m writing this post, I’m struggling with insecurity and comparison. Through the process of reading the word and journaling, I’m reminded of my value and worth and the bottomless pit of comparison. I also write down three things I’m thankful for every day. This helps cultivate a grateful heart in me.
4. Community and encouragement of friends
I hang out with people who build me up and remind me of what’s true and right. This means they remind me of truth and encourage/challenge me when I fall short. I’m so thankful for God’s provision of community and the role we play in each other’s lives to drive us to remember.
5. Read stories of others who’ve gone before us
Anytime I can read the story of someone who walked through trials and made it through the other side with a deeper faith, I remember (again) God’s goodness and kindness. For example, I recently read Ernie Johnson, Jr’s memoir, called Unscripted: The Unpredictable Moments That Make Life Extraordinary. Johnson, the Emmy-winning studio host of Inside the NBA on TNT, shares his story of the challenges of life, as he watches God work in the midst of trials. Another of my favorites is The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom.
6. Develop an Eternal Perspective
I never want to minimize what someone else is going through. But, as followers of Christ, we need to remember these trials are light and momentary afflictions.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 says, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
When we say, “How long, O Lord,” we know these trials will not last forever.
7. Stop comparing myself to others
Both statements might be cliche, but it helps to remember: 1) No one wins in the game of comparison, and 2) comparison is the thief of all joy. Whenever I compare, I find myself playing the victim and asking “How long, O Lord?”.
Along those lines, sometimes I need to put down my phone and stop looking at social media. Technology and social media are not evil, but sometimes will steal away the joy and lead me to compare myself to others.
8. Cry out – God hears you!
God hears your voice. He’s not deaf, and He’s not absent. While the Psalmist might feel like God does not care or is not present, we need to lean on the Truth. And while you and I feel like the enemy is winning and God has forgotten us, we need to trust in His steadfast love and remember His salvation. Isaiah 41:10 says, “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
In those times when you want to scream out, “How long, O Lord,” what will you do to remember He has dealt kindly with you and me?
1. What is one step (of the eight above) you can take to help remember God’s goodness and kindness to you in the middle of “How long” seasons?
2. What else do you do to help remember? Please share if you have any further suggestions.