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Long enough, God—you’ve ignored me long enough

Long enough, God—you’ve ignored me long enough.  I’ve looked at the back of your head long enough.  Long enough I’ve carried this ton of trouble, lived with a stomach full of pain.

Long enough.

Okay, so you are likely having one of two reactions right now: The first is, “I can’t believe she is talking to God like that!  Steer clear because she has a lightning bolt headed her way.”

Well, I didn’t actually say that. David did. You know, “the man after God’s own heart.” King David.  The man responsible for writing most of the psalms in the Bible. Yeah, that David.  And this idea of “how long is God going to ignore me?” is how he starts my favorite psalm of all time. 

So, now that you know no one is getting struck by lightning, the other reaction you might be having is: “Me, too, girl. I feel the same way.”  Because the truth is that nearly all of us have wondered where He was at some point or another.  Wondered why He wasn’t intervening on some difficult aspect of our lives.  Wondered why He wasn’t answering our prayers how we thought He should.

image2.PNGThe truth is that God feels distant to all of us at times.  The proof is scattered throughout Scripture and shows in the lives of biblical leaders today, including John Piper, who said in response to a question about God being distant in one’s life, “I and others — thousands of others — have shared seasons like that.”  So, first things first.  If you are a believer and feel, or have felt, God is distant in your life, you are not alone.

God has certainly felt distant at times in my life. Never was that more true than when I had a serious bout with obsessive compulsive disorder a couple years ago.  I remember laying facedown in my floor night after night begging God to take away the irrational, but consuming, fear that choked out any real hope for relief for several weeks of my life.  Clearly these feelings weren’t from God because He doesn’t give us a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7), so why wouldn’t he just answer my prayer and heal me?

Therein lies the anguish expressed by David in Psalm 13:1-2: 

“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 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?” (ESV)

You know He can fix it.  But He hasn’t yet.  And you want to know why.  So you cry out to him. Over and over and over again.  And you still don’t get an answer.  Still don’t feel relief.  Still don’t see light at the end of the tunnel.  And then you get tired.  You start to doubt your faith—doubt Him.  You don’t want to feel this way, but if He was really for you (Romans 8:31), He would have shown up and fought for you by now.  Right?

Oh, the number of times I have made these verses my prayer.

And oh, how many times I have missed the point of the psalm in its entirety!

The problem with making my prayer these first two verses is that it is all about me and what God does for me.  Seriously—read it again.

“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 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?” (ESV)

But if you continue reading, Psalm 13 changes at verse 5 when it says, “I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.”  You see, this is why David was a man after God’s own heart.  The focus of this psalm is not about criticizing God when He is distant in our time of need—it is instead about our response when He is distant in our time of need.  Instead of this constant focus on God moving to help him, David changes his tone by saying what he will do in response to His longing.

So I’m going to be real here—often my struggles are born out of my complete infatuation with myself.

I want to be awesome.  I want to do great things.  I want people to know me and respect me and love me.  I want my life to be comfortable, and I want all of that right now.

I am all about me, y’all.

But God says it’s not about me.  Listen, He makes it very clear that He loves me with a love so fierce I can’t even understand it.  I mean, He gave His son up to a horrific death so that I could have a relationship with Him.  He loves me, okay.  But image1.PNGit’s not about me.  It never has been, and it never will be.

And—don’t miss this—He loves me so much that my wants, my timing, my ideas, they are not His priority.  Because His way is always better.  And His timing is always perfect.

Yesterday He reminded me of this.

After my husband moved out of his parents’ home several years ago, they tried unsuccessfully to sell it two different times.  Both times, we prayed earnestly for God to help them move—the first time was for a job and the second time was to downsize, and we were devastated for them when there was zero interest in the house either time.  We believed the lack of movement on the house was a sign of distance from God.  We’ve prayed to God about this for years (literally).  Why won’t he just help them sell the house?

Well, it turns out that job they wanted to move for ended up being a disaster and downsizing would have prevented them from caring for my husband’s grandmother in the days before she moved to a nursing home. 

Well, fast forward a year or so… we recently lost my father-in-law, one of the greatest men you’ll ever know, and our family has been understandably wrecked over it. We knew my mother-in-law needed to move out, but we had little faith someone would buy her house based on its track record.

Well, you’ve probably already guessed it, but she accepted an offer on her house yesterday.

The whole time we were shaking our fist in the air wondering why God was ignoring our plans, He was thinking about this moment and His plan.  And His plan came wrapped with a big bow on top just to remind us how awesome He is because yesterday just so happened to also be my father-in-law’s birthday. He wasn’t ignoring us. He just knew when we would really need that prayer answered.

His way was better.  His way was perfect.  Not ours.

So instead of longing for God to work on my own time, I am now trying to think like David and instead shape my response during my most trying moments. 

David ends Psalm 13 by saying, “I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.”  And y’all, there is no denying that He has been good to me.  And to you.  So, I tell you that story of my in-laws’ home to not only remind you that He is always working for your good (Romans 8:28) even if it doesn’t feel like it, but to also shout His praise.  Yesterday, our God answered a prayer we had been asking of Him for years.  And He will answer yours, too.

Because He is good.  All the time.

Even despite my lack of faith at times (which is another story for another day…)

So, precious sister, He may seem distant.  He may seem silent.  He may seem indifferent to your struggle.  But He’s not ignoring you, and He certainly hasn’t forgotten you.

So the answer to David’s question of “how long?”…  The answer is: as long as it takes for God to work the situation out for your good and His glory.  In the meantime, stop asking God when He will work for you and instead remember all of the good things He has done.  Remember His promises.  Remember all the blessings He has given.  Trust that He will continue to be good because He loves you.  And sing to the Lord, ladies, because He has been good to us.

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