When Trouble comes to Stay
“How long, O Lord.”
My father used to tell a story about a country parson who announced one Sunday that his sermon would be taken from Mark’s recurrent phrase, “And it came to pass…” “That’s the way it is with trouble,” the preacher said. “It doesn’t come to stay; it comes to pass.”
Not always! Sometimes, trouble comes to stay. We lament with David, “How long, O Lord?”
Four times in this brief psalm, David asks that question and rehearses the trouble he’s seen, troubles that seem to have no end. It’s easier to endure trouble when the end is in sight, but what are we to do when our suffering seems to go on forever: An aging and demanding parent who lingers on; a troubled relationship for which there is no resolution; a painful physical condition that has no cure? You ask, “Has God forgotten me forever” (vs. 1).
David’s answer is short and sweet: “I will trust in your love.” This is our assurance as well: no matter what happens to us, we are loved by infinite love. This is the source of a tranquility and joy that transcends every difficulty.
Some years ago, I read a story about a young man who went to Ireland to celebrate his uncle’s eightieth birthday. On day of his birthday, the man and
his uncle got up before dawn and took a walk along the shores of Lake Killarney. Suddenly the uncle, despite his aging and aching body, went skipping down the beach. His nephew said, "Uncle Seamus, you look happy.” “I am, lad,” his uncle replied, You see, my Abba is very fond of me.”
Do you believe that your Father is fond of you? If you can answer, “Oh, yes, He is very fond of me,” then you know something of the great heart of God. He has loved you too much, and given too much, to stop loving you now.
For that reason, “Keep yourself (centered) in the love of God” (Jude 21).