Recently, I have been asking myself the question, as I’m sure you have too: “How long, O Lord,” will this social distancing/shelter-in-place order last? At this point, we do not know. And not knowing is driving us crazy!
Of course, if you have read the last paragraph with attentiveness, and if you’re familiar with the Bible, particularly the Psalms, you know that I made an allusion to an often repeated line: “How long, O Lord” (Psalm 13:1; 79:5; 89:46). Take, for instance, Psalm 13:
How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You Hide Your face from me?
How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
Having sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
Because of the pandemic we find ourselves in, we can relate better to what the Psalmist was feeling when he cries out: “How long, O Lord?” No, we are not facing a visible human enemy; we are facing an unseen viral enemy. The pandemic of COVID-19 has tested and tried our patience and resolve, literally, not knowing what tomorrow will bring.
When I reflect, then, on Psalm 13 in light of COVID-19, and put myself in the Psalmists shoes, two principles emerge regarding how we can respond during this time.
Pray for grace to endure
The Psalmist begs God to “consider and answer” (v. 3). Why? So that he can have his “eyes enlightened” (v. 3), which is a metaphor for overcoming grace to endure.
If you have more time on your hands now, before binge watching your favorite T.V. series, why not take five minutes to pray before you start each episode? Ask God for grace to endure the trial.
Trust in the Lord’s lovingkindness
The Psalmist, though deeply discouraged about his “enemy,” trusts in the Lord’s “lovingkindness” (v. 5) and in his “bountiful” (v. 6) dealings with him. This trust caused his heart to rejoice and sing (vv. 5b-6a).
Though we don’t know how long COVID-19 will last, we certainly can and must trust the Lord. He has dealt bountifully with us in the past. Will he not do so now and in the future?
Lord, I don’t know how long, but I trust you now more than ever.