That is my question to God. You may think it is selfish and perhaps it is, but the daily torment of watching your mother deteriorate mentally… how long, Lord? So, I did a Bible study on those exact words, “How long” and thought it was worth sharing.
That phrase occurs 50 times in the NKJV. Not all of them are helpful, but this is what I found by making several categories:
- God speaking/Jesus speaking
- Man speaking
- To God
- To man
When God speaks this phrase, it is because man has been disobedient, rejecting God and His commands. So, the question for me is, “Am I doing that—being disobedient or rejecting God and His commands?” Yes and no. Disobedient—no—at least not on a habitual basis. Rejecting God—yes—when I find myself struggling every single morning with my situation, which I know He has planned for me, then I am rejecting His will. You may ask, “Why don’t you just stop caring for your mom?” There are several reasons, but the one that I keep coming back to is this. I BELIEVE IT IS GOD’S WILL FOR ME TO DO THIS. Often, when we seek God’s will, we begin to doubt it when the going gets rough. God’s will is not based on ease but on obedience.
Jesus speaks this phrase three times and each time He does it is because of men’s unbelief, calling them a “faithless and perverse generation.” We know with absolute certainty that Jesus never sinned, so this is not an angry, exasperated retort. Scholars differ on who he was talking to: His disciples for their unbelief or the onlooking scribes “who gloried in this disappointment that the disciples met with, and hoped to run them down with it” (Matthew Henry quoting Dr. Whitby). Lord, help me to have faith and believe!
When men speak this phrase to God, it is always because they are believing a lie about God. Once again Satan whispers his only weapon into the ears of the faithful believer, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”(Genesis 3:1). Man’s complaint are these:
- God has forgotten me (Ps. 13:1; 89:46; 82:2; 90:13; Hab. 1:2)
- The wicked are winning (Ps. 13:2)
- A cry for help (Ps. 35: 17)
Remember: NEVER, NEVER, NEVER believe Satan’s lies about God. I don’t really struggle in this area. I know that God is doing what is best for me. I know He is always, only good, I just struggle and wiggle under His surgical blade making the process all the more painful and messy!
When men speak to men and say, “How long?” the lessons are good and helpful to us. Ask yourself…
- Do I need to work on my humility? (Exodus 103)
- Am I subordinate? (Exodus 10:7)
- I need to visit this one! Exodus 10:7 Then Pharaoh’s servants said to him, “How long shall this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the LORD their God. Do you not yet know that Egypt is destroyed?” I am subordinate to God by constantly questioning His perfect will! Pharoah’s servants wanted Pharaoh to let the people go because of their dire circumstances. Now, he was stubborn because he did not believe in God. What is my excuse? OUCH!
- Am I neglecting the task before me? (Joshua 18:3)
- Am I sinning? (1 Sam. 1:14 [this is a false accusation but I can still learn from it.]}
- Am I indecisive about following God? (1 Kings 18:21)
- Am I badgering others? (Job 7:19;8:2;18:2;19:2) Job complains about his friends four times because they are not speaking the truth to him or understanding his heart. I am thankful for the MANY friend and family who have supported Tom and me through this situation. I’m sure there may be some who would say, “Get over it. People are caring for loved ones with dementia all the time,” but I’ve not heard or felt that for which I’m so grateful.
So, how long before my ordeal is over? I don’t know, but by God’s grace alone I will work to be faithful!
Are you in a situation that you cannot change? I ache for you and pray that my struggle can be a blessing to you!