by Christina Fox
Have you ever been on a plane, waiting to take off on an exciting vacation, and then the captain gets on the intercom and informs everyone aboard that the plane’s been grounded? Lightning has been spotted, and no planes will take off until it passes. They won’t unload the plane either. So there you sit, in-between the place you left and the place you are headed. And everyone wonders, How long?
How Long, O Lord?
That in-between place is familiar to all of us. We know what it’s like to be waiting for something. We’ve all been in that middle place between where we’ve been and where we want to go. Whether it’s a job, a marriage, a baby, ministry success, or news from the doctor, we’ve all been waiting on the tarmac of the in-between. That place of waiting is a restless place. It’s a place of uncertainty, questions, and sometimes sorrow and fear.
Often, our heart’s cry in that place of waiting is “How long?”
- How long until we meet the man we are to marry?
- How long will we have to wait until we can finally pay off that debt?
- How long will we be sick?
- How long until our prodigal child returns home?
- How long until we no longer feel lonely, depressed, or afraid?
Understand the “In-Between”
“How long?” is the cry of God’s people through the centuries. It began the day Adam and Eve were barred from Eden, clinging to the hope and promise that one day a Savior would come and crush the head of the serpent. It was a cry echoed by the Hebrews during their tenure of slavery in Egypt. It was David’s cry in Psalm 13:
How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? (vv. 1–2).
Though the cry was answered with the Son of God’s own shout of “It is finished!” from the cross, longing is still the cry of believers who are waiting for the final consummation of Christ’s redemption and restoration. As believers, we live like nomads in a world that is not our own.
We live in the in-between—between Christ’s ascension and His final return when all things will be made right. The question, “How long?” even rings out in the halls of heaven as the souls of the martyred cry out, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (Rev. 6:10).
Whatever our in-betweens are, how do we live while we wait? How do we wait for God to act, to answer prayer, to move in the desperation of our lives? How do we live by faith while we wait to hear if we need another test, for the long-hoped-for engagement ring, for the entrance exam scores, or for our house to sell? This is where the rubber meets the road in our daily lives.
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Christina Fox received her undergraduate degree from Covenant College and her Master’s Degree in Counseling from Palm Beach Atlantic University. She writes for a number of Christian ministries and publications including Desiring God and The Gospel Coalition. She is the editor for enCourage, a women’s ministry blog of the PCA and the author of A Heart Set Free: A Journey to Hope Through the Psalms of Lament and Closer Than a Sister: How Union with Christ Helps Friendships to Flourish. She prefers her coffee black and from a French press, and she enjoys antiquing, hiking, traveling, and reading. Christina lives with her husband of twenty years and their two boys in Atlanta.