“Come and hear, all who fear God, And I will tell of what He has done for my soul.” Psalm 66:16 [NASB]
I’ve not written much lately for a variety of reasons, but one of the primary reasons has been a fear of becoming a clanging cymbal, repeatedly saying the same thing over and over. The overarching cry of my heart is, “Come, Lord Jesus!” Anything I might write flows directly from my waiting upon Him with urgent longing for His return, and a consuming desire to ready myself and to see His church readied.
I’ve felt growing apprehension that I was essentially writing the same things over and over again. That concern was reinforced recently when someone brought up the blog to me with disapproval. When I asked what about the blog bothered them, they responded that it seemed to be “dragging on and on.”
Despite the obvious sting of those words, I knew I had to weigh them. I had to allow room for them to be true, and for me to be wrong and to be corrected by them. The deep sorrow of Sarah’s absence and anguish over the tragic brokenness of this world remain whether I acknowledge them or not. But those words caused me to question, is it wrong to continue to acknowledge their reality?
If I continue to write knowing my message from this day forth will at its core be a continual rewriting of the same central truths, am I harming or helping? Am I a clanging cymbal or am I a consistent reminder of Hope in the midst of the dark brokenness of this world?
In the still of the night as I was once again prayerfully wrestling with burgeoning insecurity from those words, apprehensions, and questions, I was reminded of the psalmists’ repeated cries of “How long?”
“Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I [am] pining away; Heal me, O LORD, for my bones are dismayed. And my soul is greatly dismayed; But You, O LORD–how long?” Psalm 6:2-3 [NASB]
“How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, [Having] sorrow in my heart all the day? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?” Psalm 13:1-2 [NASB]
“How long, O God, will the adversary revile, [And] the enemy spurn Your name forever? Why do You withdraw Your hand, even Your right hand? From within Your bosom, destroy [them!]” Psalm 74:10-11 [NASB]
“How long, O LORD? Will You hide Yourself forever? Will Your wrath burn like fire?” Psalm 89:46 [NASB]
“Do return, O LORD; how long [will it be?] And be sorry for Your servants.” Psalm 90:13 [NASB]
“Rise up, O Judge of the earth, Render recompense to the proud. How long shall the wicked, O LORD, How long shall the wicked exult? “ Psalm 94:2-3 [NASB]
The psalmists’ cries of “how long?” were birthed through pangs of waiting. With each cry for deliverance the Psalmists acknowledged the dragging on and on of the trials, sorrows, brokenness, and sufferings of this world. Their testimonies of faith bolstered by sharing their urgency for deliverance along with their proclamation of God Almighty as the one and only worthy Deliverer.
“Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober [in spirit,] fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:13 [ESV]
Like the Psalmists’, our cries of “how long?” testify that we know something gloriously better is coming. Our longing for Christ’s imminent return is testimony of our confidence in Him and His promises. The brokenness of this world will drag on and on until His return, as will our cries for Him until that day.
“For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for [our] adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he [already] sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.” Romans 8:22-25 [NASB]
Faithful followers of Christ who bear great sorrow are acutely aware of the brokenness of this world and intently focused on the Hope of eternity. We are an eagerly waiting people. Like a young child waiting for Christmas, the certainty of our Hope compels us to speak often and enthusiastically of it.
Eternally Focused and Fruitfully Laboring
“For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 [NASB]
On occasion some will argue that it is possible to be too focused on eternity, yet scripture is continually pointing us toward eternity. Our hope is hinged on eternity. Our focus on eternity renders us neither useless nor unfruitful. To the contrary a Biblically proper eternal focus stirs within our souls an urgency for the spread of the gospel and the purification of the church.
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if [I am] to live [on] in the flesh, this [will mean] fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both [directions,] having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for [that] is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith,” Philippians 1:21-25 [NASB]
For those with precious loved ones who have gone ahead, there is a clear recognition that physical death is imminent, and eternity is uniquely tangible. As a result, with each beat of our hearts we urgently long for the effective spread of the gospel, the salvation of souls, revival, and the discipleship of believers. Like Paul, our longing to be with Christ stirs our commitment to number our days aright to be fruitfully used by Him until He comes or calls us Home (Psalm 90:12; Phil 1:22).
“But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR [God’s] OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” 1 Peter 2:9 [NASB]
The psalmists were not silent in their waiting and, unless God is impressing upon us to be silent, we should not be either. Our trials and tribulations may drag on and on, and our testimonies may be echoes of the same truths over and over again, but we should continue to testify none the less.
Our testimonies are not for those who grow weary of hearing them. We are commanded to comfort others with the comfort we ourselves have received (2 Cor. 1:3-4). I find deep satisfaction and joy in my testimony of God’s faithfulness and provision being of comfort or encouragement to others, but our testimonies are not ultimately for those encouraged by them either.
The sharing of our personal testimonies is an offering of praise and worship to our God. Our unceasing proclamation of His eternal truths, gracious provision, sanctifying work, sustaining power and eternal Hope is fulfillment of our calling to “proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Our cries of “How Long?” are our expressions of believing, trusting and desiring Him above all else.
“And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:18-20 [NASB]
Like Peter and John, we should be unable to stop “speaking about what we have seen and heard.” May we each faithfully and urgently wait for Him, relentlessly clinging to the promise that “In just a little while, He who is coming will come and will not delay” (Heb. 10:37), continually praising, testifying, and crying out in unison with the Psalmists who have gone before us and the saints beneath the altar, “How long, Sovereign Lord?” (Rev. 6:10).
Come, Lord Jesus.
You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
Artwork: Sarah Harmening