“I stretch out my hands to You; my soul thirsts for You like a parched land.” -Psalm 143:6
My soul is fine through the week, but I feel the frustration of longing on Sunday mornings. I miss the church gathered. It brings tears to my eyes even now when I think about it. And this longing to gather exploded off the page as I read Psalm 143. Why does the Lord ever place me in situations where I feel longing? Why can’t I have what I need right now? Why wait? Why do I need to pray and wait? I pray for the church to be able to regather in safety.
Longing led Israel to weep by the waters of Babylon when in captivity, longing to be home and gathered to worship the Lord (Psalm 137). Why do I have longing to gather as a church now, pray in my longing, and still must wait?
Even as I write this, I do not have an answer. The Bible does not answer the question, “How long, O Lord?” Yet, the Bible is clear how to wait with longing. Frustration sets in when our longings are intense, which a table of temptations is set in our hearts. When my heart is frustrated and my soul thirsts for the Lord to answer my prayers, I am tempted to become bitter, angry, demand to have what I need right now without waiting.
Yet, my heart is to be ruled by Christ’s peace (Colossians 3:15) and no matter my circumstance to learn the secret of contentment (Philippians 4:11). I can wait to gather while intensely longing to gather through Christ who gives me strength. Waiting when my soul thirsts like a parched land longing for rain makes me weak, but He is my strength.
Why a pandemic now? Why wait when I am spiritually thirsty now? I do not have an answer, church family. Yet, I know our Lord does not leave us to fend for ourselves. He does hear our prayers in Christ. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Our anxieties, bitterness, and anger in times of waiting are unjustified in light of the sovereignty of God in His kingdom and righteousness.
Trusting the prosperity of the kingdom of God and His righteousness does not mean we will not suffer here. We may not live to see tomorrow. We may lose jobs or even suffer greatly. Famines and nakedness come to God’s children commanded not to be anxious. Yet, even here, our anxieties are unjustified. Not because pains will not come or things are not scary, but this from Romans 8:35: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?”
The world suffering from a pandemic and economic pains is scary, but I take my weaknesses, my anxieties, and my longings in prayer to God. He is my peace, my strength, and my song. Even if I do not get answers to my questions, or an answer I do not like, I run to Him for safety and mercy. I urge you, beloved of God, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your steadfast love. Ease our anxious hearts. How we long to gather again. How long, O Lord? Give us Your strength to endure in the waiting, to endure with rejoicing that in any circumstance we would enjoy Your peace. Bless Your church, O Lord. In Jesus’ name. Amen.