I admit that I think a lot about my current plight and wonder when it will end. Anyone who has suffered at all in this life knows the feelings of anguish that accompany this uncertainty. We wonder with so many before us, How long O Lord?
We wonder partly because we know that when Christ came to earth to save sinners, He did not come with promises of temporal bliss and happiness. He came to save us from God’s wrath and gave us promises of future happiness and bliss with Him in heaven.
As Paul points out, we suffer with Him and His sufferings when we do suffer. And above all, He suffered far more from the fallen nature of this world than we can possibly know on this side of glory.
So long periods of suffering are actually used to help us identify with our Savior. How many times do we ask Him, and the Father, to make is more like Him? It’s quite normal that we do so, since in our hearts we worship and adore Him for redeeming us from our fallen estate. But to become more like Christ will cost us. It will cost us our temporal bliss and happiness.
This is one of the reasons so many Christians fail in the Christian walk. Too many want the glory of the cross without the suffering of the cross.
I’m the same way. I hate suffering. I hate the loss of temporal happiness. But in that, something odd has happened and is happening. Knowing that this world cannot bring me any lasting happiness, I have grown to loath this world. I don’t care what it offers, the offers it makes are empty and fleeting. I know from a failed marriage that marriage cannot bring me happiness. I know the same from a failed career. Even the sports teams I follow tend to fail in their quests for perfection. Food often satisfies until I realize the downside, which is more like an upside. I feel liked the cursed pirates in Pirates of the Caribbean who have come to realize nothing will slake our thirst.
However I still grow tired of the sufferings in all these things. I would like to be happy, but it eludes me. The sufferings still remain. Just because we know these things does not mean that our sufferings will diminish. It just means we know there is a purpose. It does nothing to ease the suffering.
So I join the chorus, How long O Lord, how long?