BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand? Turn and answer me, O Lord my God! Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die. Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him! Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall. But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because he is good to me” (Psalm 13:1-6 NLT).
Have you ever prayed over an issue – marriage, job, health condition, etc. for a long time without an answer? When the answer was not forthcoming, you added fasting to your prayer, but the situation remained the same. They told you to search the Bible for God’s promises on the issue at hand and stand upon them in prayer. You got the scriptures and confessed the Word of God day and night, but there was no change.
You initially prayed alone and later prayed with people on the issue; you did all-night prayer and all-day prayer, but you got no immediate answer. At a point, you thought it was your sin, so you confessed your sins, but there was no answer still. Some people even concluded it was your lack of faith, so you began to increase your faith, but there was no quick fix. You cried, “How long LORD?”
Maybe what I have just explained describes your present condition. You have been crying, “How long LORD?” over some issues in your life. God seems far away from you. But the truth is that, the delay in getting answer to your prayer is sometimes not because of your lack of faith, your sin or anything wrong with you.
“How Long LORD?” is a complaint we often make. We are wondering: For how long do we stay in a particular condition? How long do we have to wait for our situation to change? How long do we need to wait for that job, that miracle, that employment, that victory, or that answer to prayer? Just how long LORD? How long will the enemy continue to laugh at us?
When you hear people making this cry or asking this question, do not be too quick to condemn them as having no faith. Some of them have been waiting on God for three, four years or even much more than that. Condemning them is not the right way to relate with them in that situation. It is a natural reaction that even those with “a great faith” sometimes have when they are under pressure. And it is not that they are renouncing their faith in God. If you are in their shoes, you would say the same thing or possibly worse things. That is the truth.
“How long LORD?” is a question often borne out of exasperation and desperation. The psalmist, Ethan the Ezrahite, said, “O Lord, how long will this go on? Will you hide yourself forever? How long will your anger burn like fire?” (Psalm 89:46 NLT). In Psalm 90:13, the psalmist cried, “O Lord, come back to us! How long will you delay? Take pity on your servants!” (NLT).
As seen in Psalm 13, David cried in verse 1, “O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever?” There is a contrast in verses 5-6 where he emphasized his trust in the LORD. “But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because he is good to me” (NLT). In other words, he was ready to trust God no matter how long it would take God to intervene and change his condition. How long LORD?
In Psalm 6:3, David said, “I am sick at heart. How long, O Lord, until you restore me?” (NLT) That is, for how long would he continue in that condition? I am sure that statement is something you can relate to. You must have been in a similar situation – sick at heart – and wondering how long the situation would persist.
In Psalm 35:17, he also challenged God concerning those who pretended to be his friends but rejoiced in his adversity. Maybe you have suffered from such friends too. With such friends, you do not need enemies! You are not alone; you are in the same company with the psalmist. “How long, O Lord, will you look on and do nothing? Rescue me from their fierce attacks. Protect my life from these lions!” (NLT).
In Psalm 74:10, the psalmist, Asaph, cried “O God how long shall the adversary reproach? Shall the enemy blaspheme thy name for ever?” (KJV). Also in Psalm 94:3-4, the psalmist said, “How long, O Lord? How long will the wicked be allowed to gloat? How long will they speak with arrogance? How long will these evil people boast?” (NLT).
Have you been in a similar condition like the psalmist, crying to God for justice, but it looked as if God was not interested in justice? You were almost concluding that God may be supporting the oppressors, the wicked. But that cannot be true. It is not in the nature and the character of God to do that. What you are going through was suggesting to you that the wicked would be in control forever and the unpleasant situation would continue for long and God would do nothing to stop them.
No, it will not be forever; your present negative condition will not last forever. What you are crying to God about will not continue forever. It only appears so; do not be discouraged.
In Psalm 79:5 and Psalm 80:4, the lamentation of the psalmist, Asaph, was over God’s anger. How long will God be angry? God may be angry but His anger will not last forever. Psalm 30:5 says, “For his anger endureth but for a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (KJV). Yes, God’s anger does not last for long, but his favor lasts a lifetime. You may be weeping through the night, but in the morning, your joy will come. However, it does not always appear so when someone is in pain, sickness, lack, unemployment, etc. It usually appears the negative conditions would never end. So in frustration, the usual question is, “How long LORD?”
Prophet Habakkuk, under pressure, also cried: “O LORD, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear? Even cry out to You, ‘Violence!’ And You will not save” (Habakkuk 1:2 NKJV). He was lodging a complaint to God. Have you felt like that before?
In the book of Zechariah, the angel of God also asked a similar question: “O LORD of hosts, how long will You not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which You were angry these seventy years?” (Zechariah 1:12 NKJV). It appeared that God would not have mercy on Judah and the cities of Judah again. But that would not be true. God’s answer removes such erroneous impression. “‘Therefore, this is what the Lord says: I have returned to show mercy to Jerusalem. My Temple will be rebuilt, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, and measurements will be taken for the reconstruction of Jerusalem.’ ‘Say this also: This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: The towns of Israel will again overflow with prosperity, and the Lord will again comfort Zion and choose Jerusalem as his own’” (verses 16-18 NLT). Did you see that?
God will return to show mercy on you no matter what your current situation suggests to the contrary. He will visit you with His mercy. “For the Lord will not cast off forever. Though He causes grief, yet He will show compassion According to the multitude of His mercies. For He does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men” (Lamentation 3:31-33NKJV).
It will not be long
You are asking at the moment, “How long LORD?” How I wish I could tell you with precision how long more you would have to wait before your answer would come! I wish it were possible for me to assure you that the answer you have been waiting for will come in the next ten minutes. How many people have received prophecies like that only for them to be disappointed? God might not have sent those setting the time for divine answer to these people’s prayers. Those prophesying were either emotional or were outright liars!
But the LORD is saying, “It will not be long.” It will not be long when the answer to your prayers will come. It will not be long when your miracle shall happen. It will not be long when your victory shall manifest. It will not be long when your marriage will be restored. It will not be long when your healing shall be perfected. It will not be long when that marriage partner you have been praying about will show up. It will not be long when your shame shall turn to glory. It will not be long when your long overdue letter of promotion will be released. It will not be long when your mourning shall be turned into dancing. It will certainly not be long when your tears shall turn to rejoicing. Verily, verily I say unto you, your weeping will soon change to laughter, and your prophecies to reality.
Noah must have wondered how long he would have to stay in the ark. Abraham must have wondered how long he must keep waiting for the promise of becoming the father of many nations to be fulfilled. David must have wondered how long he would have to wait to become the king of Israel, despite having been anointed by Prophet Samuel. Things turned sour for him after he was anointed. Rather than ascend the throne, he became a fugitive – he was living in caves and as a foreigner far away from the people he was anointed to reign over. David must have wondered how long he must wait for Prophet Samuel’s proclamation of him as king to become a reality. Joseph must have wondered how long he must wait for the dreams he had to come to pass. Indeed, Hannah and Elizabeth must have cried about how many years they would have to wait before they would carry their own babies.
Wait more; pray more
No matter how long you have been waiting on God on that issue in your life, you must refuse to be anxious, but prayerfully and patiently wait for the LORD. It shall not be long. The Bible says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done” (Philippians 4:6 NLT). Do not be anxious. Keep praying. “Never stop praying” (1Thessalonians 5:17 NLT).
Continued prayer shows that your trust is still in God. A man who does not pray is saying that he can do it alone; he does not need God. Do not let delayed answer to prayer discourage you from praying. Do not give up on God. Keep praying. Psalm 33:20 –22 says, “We put our hope in the Lord. He is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone” (NLT).
It pays to wait on the LORD, notwithstanding how long a man has waited without answer yet. God has His own set time – the appointed time for the answer to your prayers. Psalm 40:1-3 says, “I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord” (NLT).
If you wait patiently for the LORD, He will answer your prayers and bring you out of the miry clay you may be in. He will set your feet on a rock, establish your goings, and put a new song in your mouth to sing. Wait for the LORD; do not produce an answer for yourself. Self help will not help you! It did not help Abraham, as Ishmael remained a problem to mankind till today. God never promised him Ishmael – Isaac was the child of promise. Your Isaac may be late in coming, but avoid producing an Ishmael.
Do not let the pressure of delayed answer lead you to make a mistake you will live to regret. “Enthusiasm without knowledge is no good; haste makes mistakes” (Proverbs 19:2NLT). Isaiah 28:16 says, “…Whoever believes need never be shaken” (NLT). Do not allow yourself to be moved or shaken by the pressure of delayed answer to prayer.
Put your trust in the LORD; He will not allow you to be put to shame. The last sentence in Isaiah 49:23 says, “Those who trust in me will never be put to shame” (NLT). The King James Version renders it thus: “They shall not be ashamed that wait for me.” Lamentation 3:25-26 says, “The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD” (NKJV). Did you notice that phrase: It is good? Did you see that the Bible does not say, “It is better”? The comparative is not used. You cannot compare hoping and quietly waiting for the salvation of the LORD to doing anything otherwise, which is not good.
Friend, I appreciate the fact that you have been waiting for quite some time (I have also been waiting for some answers to prayer). It may have been a long waiting for you. But it is good you wait more for the LORD’s fire; do not make your own fire. “Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of his servant? Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God. But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment”” (Isaiah 50:10-11 NIV).
Lighting fires for oneself is engaging in self help rather than waiting for the visitation of the LORD. This is what Abraham and Sarah did and produced Ishmael (Genesis 16:1-15). And your mistake will keep laughing at your miracle when God eventually fulfills His promise. “But Sarah saw Ishmael—the son of Abraham and her Egyptian servant Hagar—making fun of her son, Isaac” (Genesis 21:9 NLT).
For how long should you wait? As long as it will take God to give you answer to your request. Any advantage you think you have gained by quitting waiting on God will soon begin to reveal its pain and regrets. Be wise! Let your confession be that of Prophet Micah who declared, “As for me, I look to the Lord for help. I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me” (Micah 7:7 NLT).
Saul should have waited more for Samuel when he didn’t come within the seven days Samuel had told him. He went into error and offered a burnt offering he was not competent to offer. As soon as he finished offering the sacrifice, Samuel arrived. “And Samuel said to Saul, ‘You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which He commanded you. For now the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you” (1 Samuel 13:13-14 NKJV).
If you will wait on God just some time more, you will experience the answer to your prayer. Wait till the appointed time for your change to come (Job 14:14). Your days of adversity will soon be over. It will certainly not be long!
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible believing and Bible teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The LORD be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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