Psalm 13:1-2 How long, O LORD? Wilt thou forget me for ever? How long wilt thou hide thy face from me? How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
How long? I have yet to meet someone who enjoys pain and likes to suffer. I can’t answer the question how long, God knows, but I do not – but it might be of some benefit to why the question is asked – do you want an answer – 7 years, 3 months 12 days and 5 hours – or is the questions really a question of why?
The why is not hard to understand, at least from an objective point of view, and we can begin with the very basic question – who are you?
The first thing we answer when someone ask – who are you? The first thing we tell them is our name. Then we might begin to tell them something about what we do and where we come from. Are you a father, mother, son, daughter, student, farmer, housewife…?
Look at your list, where on the list does this appear: "child of God"? Its pretty important, but we don’t talk about it much, not to others, one time its likely to come up is when we are talking to God, and we want to remind him who we are, as if reminding him will make him treat us better. I deserve better than this – I don’t deserve what I have received. And that is exactly how pride can creep into anyone’s life. That kind of pride is sinful and it leads us away from God. Usually it is very subtle, and it will make a claim under the laws of what we imagine to be fair, and unfair, this too is a sinful activity – God never promises that anything in life is going to be fair. Fair, is one of Satan’s deceptions.
Is it fair for an innocent man to suffer while the guilty go free? But as soon as we ask that question aren’t we judging God, who let Jesus die for our sins. There are many ways that we can be tempted – and sin doesn’t need to be something we do – it is quite possible to sin just by thinking sinful thoughts.
And that’s when we really begins to understand the question – how long? God isn’t the obstacle, we are. And the great difficulty is admitting what we are and who we are before God – to confess that we are poor miserable sinners who deserve nothing but God’s wrath, displeasure, and punishment.
When we confess that we are sinners, we are confessing that we don’t deserve anything good, that we have no claim on God, and that there is no reason why he should listen to us. When we confess our sins the only thing we can do is empty ourselves of all pride, of all ambition, of all our plans, of all our desires – and plead for mercy. And when we beg God for mercy, God has mercy upon us – he doesn’t have to, that’s why this mercy is grace – we’ve neither earned it, nor do we deserve it.
Relief comes because we can trust in God’s steadfast mercy – it never wears out, there is always enough. Relief comes because we can be confident of a free and complete salvation, because Jesus death has already paid the price. Relief comes, because we do not get what we deserve (punishment), but in mercy God pours countless good into our lives, and he forgives our sins, washes them completely away. Relief comes when God through baptism makes us a new creation – we need to rise to this new life we have been given. There is relief! That’s why we sing a song of praise to our God, and we praise our Savior because he suffered and died for us. He understands, and he will provide.