Lesson Six: Crying Out to God in Long Seasons of Trial
It is not the initial sting of a crisis that is so painful. It’s the longevity of the thing. When sudden loss happens to us the adrenaline kicks in and we muster up the courage to meet the challenge. It’s when a crisis continues on day after day, month after month, with seemingly no end in sight that we become weary. When COVID-19 first hit, the first general public reaction was denial. I for one didn’t have the time for a pandemic and wrongly assumed the disease would not become widespread. As the numbers of those exposed, sick, and succumbing escalated the virus got my full attention. As of today, April 6th, the models of the virus’s spread are very concerning and at this point we could be in lockdown mode for another month or longer. Experiencing fatigue, many are asking, “How long O Lord?” That’s the real question, isn’t it? How long will we be able to endure this?
One of the great lessons we learn from the ten plagues that overwhelmed Egypt is that they ended. In fact, they ended on the very day God said they would end hundreds of years before. God spoke to Abraham in Genesis 15 and let him know his offspring would be sojourners in a land that did not belong to them for an exact number of years and they would be afflicted as slaves but, “I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, AND AFTERWARD they shall come out with great possessions” (Genesis 15:14). After the tenth plague Moses records:
“The time that the people of Israel lived in Egypt was 430 years. At the end of 430 years, ON THAT VERY DAY, ALL THE HOSTS OF THE Lord went out from the land of Egypt.” -Exodus 12:40-41
Four hundred and thirty years is a long time! There was, however, a set time in God’s calendar that the suffering ended. God knew the end at the very beginning. We must take courage and know that there will be an end to this pandemic. There will be an “afterward.” When is it? Only God knows but in the meantime before the afterward we are learning endurance through a long season of pain. One thing is for certain: God hears the cries of suffering from His people. From the burning bush God said to Moses:
“I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them…” -Exodus 3:7-8
The Psalms teach us to, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me” (Psalm 50:15). The Hebrew word for “call” is qura, and it means “calling aloud or crying aloud.” David the psalmist found it necessary to cry out continually when in seasons of anguish: “Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice (Psalm 55:17). The Hebrew word here for “crying aloud” is hamah, which means “a loud roar.”
In the parable of the Persistent Widow in Luke chapter 18 Jesus says: “And shall God not avenge His own elect who CRY OUT day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily” (Luke 18:7-8). The word here for “bears long” is
makrothumeo, and it means to patiently endure loss and misfortune. God is the One carrying our burdens through this pandemic and bearing us up under the heavy loads we are carrying. In essence, God is enduring our pain with us and longs for the dawning day of our deliverance even more than we do. And, when His deliverance comes, and it will, it’s going to happen “speedily”!
In this long season of loss and suffering, God is refining and molding us. There is a wonderful truth in James 5:7 that affirms this:
“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.”
The farmer longed for the harvest time but also knew it was necessary for the rain to complete its work. Yes, God is concerned about what happens to us but He is more concerned about happens in us as we patiently wait for the end of this trial.
“Strength is not created by adversity; it is merely awakened by it.”
Mark Eddy Smith, Tolkien’s Ordinary Virtues:
Exploring the Spiritual Themes of the Lord of the Rings.
“The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places”
Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms