How Long the Night?January 12, 2014 - 5:00 am
My soul is in deep anguish.
How long, LORD, how long?—Psalm 6:3
Many times in life we are faced with challenges and hardships. While these times may be difficult, even painful to endure, they are certainly not without meaning and purpose. King Solomon, the wisest of all men, taught: “The crucible is for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart” (Proverbs 17:3). Just as precious metals like gold and silver are produced through the furnace and the crucible, so, too, our hearts are purified through our trials and tribulations.
Often, the most difficult aspect of going through hard times is not knowing when it will end. Going through a dark tunnel is not so bad when we can see the light shining through the other side. But when there is no end in sight, we have to rely on our faith that our difficulties won’t last forever. Still, the heart aches as we wonder when the darkness will finally end.
King David spoke to this in Psalm 6. He wrote: “My soul is in deep anguish. How long, LORD, how long?” David was in pain and he wanted to know when it would end. Later in the psalm, he said: “I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with tears . . . .” (v.6). David was tired and weary as we often are during our own difficult times. Maybe it is a prolonged illness or a lengthy period of financial insecurity. It could be a chronic relationship problem or repeated professional failure. It’s difficult going through trials day after day for a long period of time. It’s a true test of spiritual and mental endurance.
So what kept David going through his long night of distress?
It was knowing that everything can change in an instant; salvation can come in one moment. At the end of the psalm, David wrote that all his enemies would “suddenly be put to shame” (v.10).Unexpectedly, everything can turn around – when the time is just right.
Friends, when our dark night seems long and unending, we need to remember that it can end suddenly, too. Salvation can be just around the corner. But more importantly, we need to know that there is a purpose to our suffering and a reason why it may be drawn out. Pastor Rick Warren said it beautifully: “God changes caterpillars into butterflies, sand into pearls, and coal into diamonds using TIME and PRESSURE. He’s working on you, too.”
Only God knows how long the night will be. But we get to determine who we will be when the dawn finally arrives.