An Often Asked Question
Read: Psalm 13:1-6; Acts 1:6-11
At the time of the writing of this devotion, the coronavirus has spread into every state except West Virginia. Sadly, there are families and friends who are grieving the loss of loved ones. In addition, the livelihood of countless others has been or will likely be affected by this virus. With all this in mind, I was thankful to discover that President Trump has called for a National Day of Prayer on March 15. May the Lord hear our cries to Him and help us as He has promised, Psalm 46:1; Psalm 34:17-19; Psalm 62:8. May our Creator/Redeemer be honored as He accomplishes even far more than we can ask or think, Ephesians 3:20.
As my husband and I have watched some of the coverage of this on-going story, I have been struck with the repetition of one question. Over and over again, people in authority as well as doctors are asked the same thing: “How long do you think it will be before we turn a corner and things get back to normal?” One thing is surely true. I'm thankful not to be on national TV or for that matter any TV, having been asked for a possible timeline concerning these difficult circumstances. There is simply no way to know, even for these folks with expertise. Maybe that's why their best guesses vary so much. There are simply to many unknowns right now.
Even so, when circumstances cause us to struggle, it is part of being human to want to know when we will glimpse a light at the end of the tunnel. I'm so thankful that the people we meet and come to know in the Bible wrestled with our same questions. Let's take a glimpse into a few of their lives:
We know that the author of Psalm 13 was David. We don't know for certain when he wrote these six verses. We do know that the psalm begins with a lament. David was feeling forgotten and forlorn. His words in the first two verses paint a picture of the weariness that had been a part of his every-day life. It is in these first two verses that he asked our question. He was wondering "how long." The pattern of this psalm is similar to many David wrote. The man after God's heart often began by pouring out his feelings to the Lord. He unashamedly spoke with His Master concerning both his sorrows and joys. In verses 3-6 of the psalm, David turned his eyes in a different direction. After having cried out in misery, the psalmist next cried out for the Savior's help. It is evident by the words of these verses that David knew that God would rescue him. He counted on God's unfailing love; so, he could sing praises to His God, even before an answer came. Even before he knew "how long."
I'm thankful that we too can count on God's unfailing love, Romans 8:35-39 even before we know the duration of any given circumstances. Romans 8:35 asks if anything can separate us from God's love? Do the hard times mean that the Lord no longer loves us? The answer is a resounding no.
2. Jesus' apostles
I love the picture Luke paints in the first chapter of Acts in verses 6-11. Jesus and his apostles were together. His friends weren't aware of it, but He was about to leave them. It was at this time that they ask a bold form of our question. They didn't merely ask Him how long it would be until He restored Israel and set up His kingdom. Rather than that, they continued to query the Risen Lord concerning whether this was the time for the nation's renewal and freedom from her enemies. Let's put ourselves in their sandals. They were speaking with the One Who had risen from the dead. They knew their scriptures. They had read, Isaiah 35; Isaiah 11; Psalm 2 and many others. Because of these promises that God had made, they were waiting for their Messiah to rule and reign on earth. Surely after witnessing the One Who was dead and how He came back to life; their questions were understandable. Yet, Jesus' answer, though wondrous, wasn't what they most likely expected. They would receive power and be His witnesses. Beautiful. Yet, the time for Israel's freedom and restoration would remain a mystery to them. What were they to do? Wait for the Holy Spirit to come and empower them. They did learn one thing about Jesus that they hadn't known when they were questioning Him. They were told that just as the Holy One had left as they looked up; He would also come down in the same fashion. Even though they knew that, they weren't to watch the clouds. Instead, armed with the truth that He would come again and do all they were hoping for, they were to be busy and doing His work. The Spirit would empower and enable them. They were to be faithful while they were waiting.
Sometimes, like Jesus' friends, we think it must be time for our "how long" to end. We ask, but nothing changes. What can we do? We can remember that we have the same promise to stand on that filled Jesus' friends with joy, Luke 24:52. He will come back, and as we wait to see what He will do, He will enable us to be faithful, 1 Corinthians 4:2. We can continue to honor Jesus with our lives because the same Holy Spirit Who empowered Jesus men and women also empowers us. Even when we are waiting to know "how long", we can bear lasting fruit, John 15:16.
Lord, we are thankful that You don't chide us when we wonder how long a circumstance will last. You endured sorrow and pain when You lived here with us, John 1:14. You understand how difficult circumstances here can be. Thank You Lord that You know how long each circumstance will last, including our struggles with coronavirus. Thank You that You are at work in ways we don't yet know. We ask for Your mercy on all those who need Your special help at this time.