How long, O God, will the adversary revile, and the enemy spurn Your name forever? Psalm 74:10
How Long – In 1928, Leroy Carr expressed musically what every person asks from the heart: “How long, how long?” Dozens of musicians have recorded his song. What they don’t realize is that the original score was written by David, not Leroy Carr. If you want to hear Eric Clapton‘s rendition of Leroy’s music, go here. If you want to listen to David’s version, go here. If you’ve never wondered how long it would be before things get better, then call me. I could use your help.
The “how long” question raises some important implications about our conception of God’s character. We have often spoken about the three different Greek words for time: aeon, chronos and kairos. What is quite clear from Scripture is that God’s actions are uniquely set in kairos time; that moment when it is the perfect opportunity for God to do what He does. In other words, while we usually trudge along in chronos time, minding our daily routines and scheduled events, God often reveals Himself in the pregnant moment, in those intersections between heaven and earth when everything is just right to bring about His glory. The Bible tells us that the moment of the incarnation was a kairos event. The coming of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost was a kairos event. So was God’s self-revelation on Mount Sinai. In fact, God seems to show up in kairos interjections into chronos monotony. It is His character to wait until everything is exactly right. And, of course, God is never late.
What this explains is crucial to our daily pleas for intervention. The “how long” question impugns God’s character. What we are really saying when we complain, “How long, God?” is that we don’t believe that God is acting as He should. We see circumstances differently. God should do something about it now. We don’t understand why He delays. Clearly, He needs to act. Since He doesn’t, we throw a verbal reminder toward heaven, suggesting that God is either malicious (He could do something but He doesn’t) or impotent (He would like to do something but He won’t). In either case, we tread on the grapes from that tree in the Garden. We pretend to be gods.
Listen! If God is good, all-powerful and trustworthy, then the “how long” question is an insult. Do you think that the God who knows your needs even before you ask doesn’t know when you need them? Don’t you know that He acts to bring about what is best at precisely the time that best meets His purposes? We need to remember Job and beg forgiveness for our arrogance. If you trust who God is, you won’t write the “How Long Blues” into your life. Our God doesn’t play that tune.
Topical Index: Sovereignty