O LORD, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! Even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save!— Habakkuk 1:2
“O Lord, how long!” This has been the cry of many saints of God throughout the ages. “How long?”
Joshua used these words in scolding the children of Israel for not putting forth their best effort in possessing the land. Elijah proclaimed these words when asking the children Israel how long would it take before they quit their double-mindedness and choose the Lord. Job asked his so-called friends how long would it be for them to stop vexing his soul. David asked the Lord how long would the Lord hide His face from him. The martyrs of Revelation 6:9-11 asked, “how long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?”
I can’t find an instance where these questions were explicitly reprimanded by the Lord. I don’t believe it is wrong to ask these questions. We should never doubt God, but the question, “how long” may just be the right wise words to ask given a right perspective.
What is the right perspective? Have you ever been discouraged and asked the Lord, “how long?” Maybe you have been praying for lost loved one, and it seems as though the Lord just isn’t answering your prayer. Maybe you have been praying the Lord restore peace in your family for a long time, and there is no answer. You have prayed for healing, and it never came. Know this, first: Many of the saints of God have asked that question before you, and many of these saints continued their prayers even AFTER they asked that question. Keep on! As the old saying goes, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease!” Keep on praying! Habakkuk kept on praying, and he got his answer. The answer wasn’t necessarily what he was expecting, but he got an answer! Don’t lose faith when it seems as though God is silent.
Next, we must realize that God asks this question too! In Numbers 14:11, the Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them.” Jesus scolded the generation living during His earthly ministry in Luke 9:41. “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, and suffer you?” Remember, this book is a great little book for teaching us the spiritual perspective on things. When we ask the question, we must remember that the Lord has been patient with us. He was patient with Israel in the wilderness. He could have destroyed them all and start a new line with Moses, but because of His mercy, He preserved them. Our Lord during His earthly ministry had compassion on those who continued to reject Him. Our LORD asked the question, “How long?” Think about how many times the Lord has asked you that question. “How long will you keep doubting Me? How long will you refrain from putting My ways first? How long will it be until you devote yourself to My will? How Long!”