One of the hardest things for us to do is to wait. God will work all things out in His timing, but the scripture tells us, “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day” (2 Peter 3:8).
This is all well and good for God, but a thousand years is a long time for us! We often don’t want to wait for His timing—we want it now! Of course, we sound like a petulant child when we say this. We are like Veruca Salt in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, who, all the way back in 1971 sang the song of our time: “I Want it Now.”
And speaking of movies, an interesting study was conducted by James Cutting, a psychologist at Cornell University. He found that the average shot length of English language films was about 12 seconds in 1930. That means that a viewer would watch for twelve seconds before the movie would shift to a different camera for a different perspective. 12 seconds; that’s it! That’s as long as a viewer could stand to watch a shot! Quite the difference from God’s thousand years perspective.
But do you know what makes this study all the more astounding? Cutting found that in 2010, the average shot length declined to a mere 2.5 seconds. The modern viewer can now only watch a show if the camera shot changes every couple of seconds! Talk about your short attention span! This makes it all too easy for us to relate to David’s sentiments as he concludes Psalm 35.
Please read Psalm 35:17-28.
David is suffering. He has done nothing wrong, but people are spreading malicious gossip about him. Others are rejoicing as he is being brought low, openly mocking him and relishing his disgrace. Their hearts desire is to destroy David, to put him to shame and disappointment. And they are getting away with it!
As David endures their taunts, jeers, cruel jokes and hurtful slander, he cries out to God: “How long, O Lord, will you look on?”
As a man after God’s own heart, David has faith that God will deliver him. He just wants to know how long he will have to suffer until that time comes. As his enemies mock him, it feels like God is sleeping or distant. So David prays to God, “Awake and rouse yourself for my vindication!” He feels like God is far away from him, and begs the Lord to return.
Earlier in this psalm, David imagined God as an Armored Warrior, standing in his defense. But his warrior is nowhere to be found. He knows that God is all powerful, and could slay his enemies in a second if he so wished. But seconds have passed; hours have passed; days have passed; and his enemies are still rejoicing in their cruelty over him.
How long will he have to wait until God metes out justice?!?! He believes with his whole heart that God will dispense justice. He looks forward to worshipping the Lord in that day, thanking Him in the great congregation, praising Him in the mighty throng, and telling everyone he meets about the goodness of God. But when will that day come?
Many Christians can relate to David’s struggle. We know that Jesus will one day return; we know that Jesus will one day right all wrongs, punish evildoers, and bring His saints to His eternal home. That is the great hope to which all Christians look forward. But, until that day comes, we will be persecuted, mocked, attacked for our faith; we will suffer loss and hardship; we will be forced to endure trials that seem too great for us to bear.
When the trials come, we can join in David’s question: “How long, O Lord?” But we must never stoop to the level of Veruca Salt; we must never demand that God deliver us now. We may want to shift our attention away from the trial after 2.5 seconds, but God has a greater purpose. He may want us to endure the trial for years – maybe even for the rest of our life. This day of trial may seem like a thousands years to us, but God will deliver us in His time. Then we will have all of eternity to rejoice in His deliverance. In the meantime, we must trust that He has a greater purpose in mind, and humbly submit to our Lord.