“From the Hart” Devotional for Jan. 11, 2024

“How Long?”
by Julie Hart, Director of Connectional Ministries

How long will you forget me, Lord? Forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long will I be left to my own wits,
agony filling my heart? Daily?
How long will my enemy keep defeating me?
Look at me!
Answer me, Lord my God!
Restore sight to my eyes!
Otherwise, I’ll sleep the sleep of death,
and my enemy will say, “I won!”
My foes will rejoice over my downfall.
But I have trusted in your faithful love.
My heart will rejoice in your salvation.
Yes, I will sing to the Lord
because he has been good to me.
~ Psalm 13 (CEB)

I invite you to take a moment to read Psalm 13 from your Bible before continuing…

Depending on which translation you are reading, there is quite a list of complaints that David has for God wondering how much longer he must endure. He asks how long God will forget him, look the other way, and hide God’s face from him. He continues to ask how long David will have to wrestle with his thoughts, be left to his own wits, and struggle with anguish in his soul. And he expresses disappointment in how long his enemy has triumphed, defeated, and had the upper hand over him.

Of course, David is not the only one in the Bible who asked or wondered how long it would take God to respond to their requests. It took until the age of 89 for Sarai to become a mother. David waited 15 years until the promise that he would be king came to fruition. Paul waited behind bars; Moses waited in the desert; and we won’t even talk about Job! There are many examples of people asking and wondering “How long?” in the Bible. Then again, we don’t have to look back to Biblical times to find examples of God’s people asking, “how long?”

I started this devotion on Monday morning, but things kept popping up preventing me from finishing it. As I type now, it is Tuesday afternoon. I am at the church where I tucked myself away in a corner to complete some tasks, one of which was to finish this devo. It wasn’t long after I got settled into my work that Lori came in letting me know that there was a gentleman named Steven in the lobby who had come in because his mother had just passed away and, since she had been raised and baptized into the Methodist church, he wanted to honor her by having her prayed for by a Methodist pastor. Pastor David was not on campus this afternoon, so I took him into the Scott Tyra prayer chapel to pray with him.

Before praying, I asked him to tell me about his mother. Her name was Suzette. It turned out, she was not the woman who had raised him. She had given birth to him at the age of 15 and he was given up for adoption where he was raised by his Jewish mother and her parents. While Steven says he had the best possible childhood, he had spent decades of his life longing to meet his biological parents. All that he had was a picture of his bio mom from when she was a teenager. On the back, she had written her name and his father’s name. It was just seven years ago that he put the picture on Facebook and that post led him to connect with his biological sister and he eventually met both his bio mom, bio dad, and his other bio brothers and sisters. Having been raised as an only child, he was excited to get to know them!

He told me about his first trip to California to meet his mother and how she had carried guilt and sorrow in her heart for the over 40 years it took for him to find her. He shared how he was able to absolve her of that guilt by telling her that he had a very blessed life and had been raised by people who loved and cared for him. He removed that heavy burden from her and spent the next seven years getting to know her and the others. He met his bio dad who had been in a debilitating motorcycle accident the year after Steven was born leaving him with significant brain damage. Steven said he didn’t want to confuse his father by telling him that he was his son, rather he just sat with him and told jokes and shared laughs. He felt as if something in his father’s soul still knew.

I thanked Steven for sharing his story with me and asked him what he knew about the Methodist religion. He said very little. I explained a little bit about our belief in grace and pointed to the examples of the prevenient, justifying, and sanctifying grace in his story. We read the 23rd Psalm, something in common between his Jewish faith and his mother’s Methodist faith. And then I was able to pray with him. I gave thanks that after years and years of waiting, God blessed both Steven and Suzette by bringing them together. It didn’t matter how long it took God to answer both of their prayers, it only mattered that God did. For that, we give thanks and praise.

So, what about you? What is the big “how long?” question in your life?
I pray that you can be at peace while you wait for your answer. Amen.