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You might find yourself asking, 'how long?'

Dr. Marvin Cameron • Jun 4, 2020 at 11:00 AM

Editor’s Note: With so many churches in our area having to suspend worship services during the coronavirus pandemic, we are asking local pastors to partner with us in bringing a daily message of hope and comfort to readers during this difficult time.

We are now in our third month of living with the COVID-19 virus. The novelty of Zoom meetings has worn off. Children and parents may have gotten on each other’s nerves as online schooling has come to a close for a while. If we are honest with ourselves, our patience is wearing thin. Beyond all that, our nation now struggles with the ongoing issue of racism in our culture.

“How long?” may be a question that is on your heart as we run out of patience with a virus and with each other.

Would you find it ironic that one of the great men of the Bible asked that same question? David was “a man after God’s own heart,” according to the scriptures. But David was still a human being. He, too, asked the question, “How long?” David’s question was not about the duration of a virus or an inherent sin. In Psalm 13:1-2, he asked the question this way: “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?”

You may have had doubts during this time in our world. But have you ever thought God had forgotten you? If so, you are in good company! A man “after God’s own heart” wondered the very same thing.

Dr. Martin Luther King used a portion of this phrase in his epic speech in Montgomery, Alabama, on March 25, 1965. He used the phrase, “How long?” six times to emphasize the fact that injustice was something that people had endured for too long. But it was that six-fold response that gave hope to people. Every time he asked, “How long?” he gave the answer, “Not long.” Why? While he didn’t quote the Psalmist directly, I think Dr. King knew the same thing David did in Psalm 13.

Now those words are being put to the test again as our nation struggles with the challenges of loving people of all races. “How long?” I pray it is “not long” before the virus is over, but even more importantly before the virus of racism is eradicated from our souls.

The Psalmist concludes with these words: “… I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.” Today, if you are joining with others in asking, “How long?” about the COVID-19 virus or the virus known as racism, could you take a minute and remember how God has been good to us? Here in Kingsport we are blessed with a “beloved community” that cares for each other. I am blessed with brothers and sisters of all races and denominations who share the work of the Lord with me. Maybe as we are asking again, “How long?” we can hear those words of David and those of Dr. King and show love for each other so that “not long” happens in our day.

May God bless us with patience, but also with the strength to act in love as we work together to find the “not long” moment in our lives.

Marvin Cameron is pastor at First Baptist Church of Kingsport.

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