“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, ‘I have prevailed over him,’
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.” Psalm 13
“O Lord, how long shall I cry for help,
and you will not hear?
Or cry to you ‘Violence!’
and you will not save?” Habakkuk 1:2
“He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.” Revelation 22:20-21
How long, Lord? Come deliver, come save, come heal, come comfort, come help, come redeem! All that was anticipated and hoped and longed for in the promised Immanuel came in the arrival of the Son of God. Not just in His birth, but in why He came and what He did: ransom us from captivity.
Captivity of sin, which grips us in a chokehold of weak necessity until He dominates as Victor. Captivity of despair in present malaise of meaning or shroud of despondence, as the Hope of Israel. Captivity of the overwhelm of a life-threatening disease or an empty future until the Savior makes all things new. Captivity of fear over this present darkness and the unknown, or financial insecurity or suffering to come, until the Lord speaks “Peace, be still”and calms the soul. Captivity of isolation and loneliness, until He dwells within as dearest comfort and heavenly friend. Immanuel Jesus swallowed “how long?” in victorious “now.” (Jeremiah 14:8; Matthew 8:23-27; John 14:16;16:33; 1 Corinthians 15:51-58; Revelation 21:5)
All these He accomplishes as our Ransom. He came to redeem all sin and its attending fall-out and misery and sadness and pain that weigh us down. He accomplished this as our unblemished, perfect Ransom and glorious Savior. His enough has satiated the verdict of our “condemned” and paid the penalty we deserve. (Isaiah 53:3-8; John 1:29; 2 Corinthians 5:21)
“O come, O come, Immanuel,
and ransom captive Israel
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.
O come, O Branch of Jesse’s stem,
unto your own and rescue them!
From depths of hell your people save,
and give them victory o’er the grave.
O come, O Bright and Morning Star,
and bring us comfort from afar!
Dispel the shadows of the night
and turn our darkness into light.
O come, O King of nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind.
Bid all our sad divisions cease
and be yourself our King of Peace.” ~Latin, 12th c, translated by J.M. Neale (1851)
Would we carry our every longing, our every “how long?” to the Ransom of our souls and leave them with Him? As we long, let us rejoice. He has heard our cry! Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel has come to thee!
My Savior, keep me rejoicing night and day at Your splendid, sufficient ransom for my soul. May my joy point the way of Your coming to and for others.