Longing is just the name of my story and my song. We long for peace, for concert tickets, and for chicken dinner. We wake up longing for coffee and we sit in airports longing for sleep; we long for that one special person and we long for that one special place.
C.S. Lewis famously said, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
Made for another world! Yes! And we feel that longing because we know our salvation is complete but our sanctification and glorification are incomplete, and we are not yet in our final home. The Church has felt this yearning for centuries. In the Old Testament, Israel longed for the Messiah, and now, along with the New Testament church, we long for our Savior to rescue us from evil and bring us to heaven.
Look how God’s people have cried out “How long?” throughout scripture:
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? (Psalm 13:1)
How long, O Lord, will you look on? Rescue me from their destruction, my precious life from the lions! (Psalm 35:17)
O Lord, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked exult? (Psalm 94:3, ESV)
How long will the land mourn and the grass of every field wither? Because of the evil of its residents …” (Jeremiah 12:4)
They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (Revelation 6:10)
We have been calling out for a long time! But our God doesn’t rush, and He doesn’t make mistakes.
God knew before the beginning of time exactly how long. He knew even while the world lay in darkness. He sent Jesus as the Messiah “in the fullness of time,” and He will rescue us “in the fullness of time” (Ephesians 1:10). While we wait for this fullness of time to arrive, we live in an in-between time. We live in the time of the “already, but not yet”: Christ’s redemption is real, here and now, but we still await the fulfillment of His coming Kingdom. We are waiting for the end of suffering and consummation of our hope.
Paul says “the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now” (Romans 8:22). Because just like Job, and David, and Paul, our suffering is real. We see evil in the world. We see the murderous atrocities of our time, and we cry out to God, “How long?”
God reaches out forwards and backwards in all of eternity and provides a mercy for our souls and a justice for evil. He gives us Jesus as an answer to all our longings.
But what can we do with this in-between time? Even at the Ascension, the disciples were asking this question, and Jesus tells them: “stay awake” and “be ready” (Matthew 24:36-44).
God has set eternity in our hearts and we long to see His kingdom come. While we wait for Him to right all wrongs, don’t give up: stay awake and ready!