A broken body. A rebellious sister. An unsaved brother. Disease that has forever changed my family. Daily difficulties of sin nature.

Sometimes the list of my trials and suffering threaten to overshadow my gaze of the Father; the pain of living in a fallen world that weaves itself into my heart attempts to steal my affections for my Savior.

“How long O Lord?” my weary soul cries out, echoing the words of Psalm 13.

How long will my heart feel like it’s being ripped out of my body, trampled on, and then placed back? How long will I have to daily fight to see the Lord’s face? How long until these sorrows are redeemed? 

How long O Lord?

John Calvin described Psalms as “an anatomy of all the parts of the soul.” How thankful I am that the Lord provides his children with the rawness found in Psalms. Repeatedly the psalmists cry out with such honesty. Listen closely. You can hear the anguish in the following verses: 

O God, be not far from me; O my God, make haste to help me! (Psalm 71:12)

O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you. My heart throbs; my strength fails me, and the light of my eyes—it also has gone from me. (Psalm 38:9-10)

From the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. (Psalm 61:2)

I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God. (Psalm 69:3)

I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me. In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearing; my soul refuses to be comforted. (Psalm 77:1-2)

Recently, as I rehearsed my troubles and asked the question “How long O Lord?” I was faced with a decision. Would I choose to listen to my heart, my emotions, and the pain? Or would I choose to press in and trust in God’s ultimate faithfulness, goodness, and sovereignty? The choice is found in the closing verses of Psalm 13.

But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me. (Psalm 13:5-6)

Even though our questions can be brought before our loving Father, they must ultimately be resolved in trusting in his character. Spurgeon put it beautifully: “When you cannot trace his hand, you can always trust his heart.”

The longings of our hearts are many, big and small, from personal comfort to gospel advance. But this world is not our ultimate home (1 Peter 2:11). Unmet desires and unfulfilled longings shouldn’t surprise the believer. Instead, they should remind us heaven is our ultimate home.

Rather than focus on our own trials, we can ask that our longings be transformed:

May our longing be for deeper intimacy with our Savior.

May our longing be to grow in Christlikeness.

May our longing be to see others find their ultimate needs met in him.

May our longing be to know Christ and to make him known.

May our longing be to bring glory to his name.

May our longing be for him.

Ask the Lord, “How long?” But then allow him to make your heart long for something greater than answers to our questions.