About Us - Publications - Broadcasts - Audio & Video - Contact Us - Home

- Broadcasts -

Rainbow Divider
MCM Broadcast

TV Broadcast #983

How Long, Oh Lord?
Part One

August 7, 2011

Return to Transcripts

Transcript of message from TV Broadcast 983 -- taken from Closed Captioning Text

— Brother Phil Enlow: Well good morning. Praise the Lord! Turn if you will, to Psalm 13—Psalm 13. I’m sure luck has nothing to do with the number of this psalm, one way or the other. But we know that the Scripture says that what “…things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” (KJV).

And we have a prayer of David…this is something we referred to awhile back, that is very interesting in its contrast and it’s a contrast that anybody who’s served the Lord any length of time is familiar with in one way or another. And somehow we find it difficult to think that this is normal, the situation that he describes, the emotions he gives expression to here, that they are not normal, when, in fact, they are. And let’s just read it first of all.

David is praying at the beginning. He says, “How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, O LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death; my enemy will say, I have overcome him, and my foes will rejoice when I fall.” (NIV).

That sounds like a pretty sorry situation here. But, the fact is, there’s not a believer who hasn’t been in this place in one degree or another, where it seems like God is gone away, circumstances are such that there’s just darkness is all we can see, and we’re crying out to the Lord to change the situation to somehow show up and do something at least… “do something, if it’s wrong,” you know the expression we have. But nothing is happening, and the enemy is just bombarding our minds, and there just doesn’t seem to be any answers coming.

And it’s pretty evident that David, in his praying here…this is not something that just happened yesterday, is it? This is not some little, ‘oh, I woke up this morning and I’m having a bad day kind of thing,’ this is a situation that’s going on. I mean the phrase that he repeats over and over is, how long—how long is this situation gonna go on. Oh God, fix this, change this, do something, time is going on and it doesn’t seem like You care!

But it’s interesting when you get to the last part because you see a very different perspective and one that I certainly need to know in greater measure. And I believe everyone who serves God needs to get this side of it to counter-balance the other, because when we get in a place like David is expressing here, we need something—we need something to go on and he’s telling you, God’s not…I can’t sense God anywhere. I can’t see Him. I look at my circumstances and it just doesn’t look like He’s doing anything. You know, it’s like here I’m hanging out there.

But listen to what he says. “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me.” So what an interesting contrast it is to understand that it is perfectly normal for believers to be in the place that David expresses here. This was a man after God’s own heart. This wasn’t somebody who’d done something wrong. I mean, isn’t that our inclination sometimes when we just can’t seem to get an answer and things just go on, and on, and on, and on and on. Oh God, I must have done something wrong. Oh God, if You’d just tell me what it is, I’ll fix it. You know, he’s talking about wrestling with his thoughts. Anybody ever wrestle with that one? Anybody ever ‘not’ wrestle with that one?

( laughter ).

Yeah, that’s…but you know, God is seeking to bring us to a place where we have in our lives, not just in theory, but in real, practical, day to day reality what it is that David expresses in the last part of this psalm, because it was real to David. David knew that even though his emotions were all geared in a very negative way, all he saw was darkness and all he saw was time stretching out and God not doing anything, he had something that was on the inside of him where he knew that that wasn’t the end of the story.

And I’ll tell you, that makes all the difference. This is not something that you can sit here and give a seminar and explain this to people. This is a knowledge that God longs to build. in the hearts of everyone who would serve Him, a faith—a confidence that reposes itself in the faithfulness and the constancy of God even when there is no tangible evidence whatsoever.

You know, we know Paul said in the New Testament, “…We walk by faith, not by sight.” (KJV). But I’m afraid the reality is that most of us walk by sight far more that we dare to admit. And we’ll believe God and believe God and believe God, and basically what we’re saying is, God okay, I’m gonna hang on a little longer, but I sure would like a sign!

( congregational response ).

Oh God, give me a sign. Well, see that’s not faith. God is wanting to take His people beyond that to where we do not hold God hostage to our expectations, our preferences, our ideas, our plans, our anything, but we are so committed to Him, our trust in Him is such that we have a confidence and an ability to not only just have confidence, but to rejoice even when there is nothing that anybody could see or feel that would cause us to be able to do that.

We serve a faithful God and David knew that. And he didn’t know it because his Sunday School teacher sat down and told him. Now there’s nothing wrong with that, but I’ll tell you, it’s got to get beyond that. It’s got to get to the point where we come to know our God. And like Abraham, it’s not like…God I’ve analyzed, like I said recently, I think…I’ve analyzed what you told me. I’ve run it by my lawyers. They’ve looked at all the fine print and I’m gonna go along with you on this one. You’ve explained it to me enough…okay, now I’m gonna have faith in what You said.

No! There is a confidence because of Who it is that’s saying it. There is a personal relationship that has developed, and it’s developed, not because you were looking for God. I mean, you want to just look ahead into the next psalm. In verse 2, it says, “The LORD looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand.” Any! The Lord is looking to see if there’s anybody who understands, “…any who seek God.” And what does he say? “All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.” You find all this quoted in Romans chapter 3. Folks, we need God!

( congregational amens ).

We are not going to have anything simply by trying to impart religion to people and get them to sign on, and go by that, and believe it, and pretend to believe it. We need a God who reveals Himself to human hearts. And there is a God who is doing that and that’s His heart, is to reach out. The thing that held David was not, oh God, I’m afraid of You. Oh God, I know I better…you know, it’s like walking on eggs. I’d better be so careful that I don’t just step and just do just the wrong thing and then You’re gonna be mad at me and then everything’s gonna go to hell in a hand basket. He had a confidence that there was a God whose love was unfailing.

God, as we’ve said so many times, never has a bad day. I was starting to say, He doesn’t wake up in the morning and feel grumpy. Of course, He never goes to sleep! He’s on the job, 24/7. He knows everything about you. He knows everything about your circumstances. He has a plan. He has a purpose concerning you, and you, and you, and you, and me. David had come to an understanding of that.

There was a revelation of God that he had experienced first when…he just would spend time with the Lord. He’d heard about Him, but God put it in his heart as a shepherd boy, just to spend time singing and worshipping the Lord and just enjoying the beauties of what he had, but the Lord was talking to him, and giving him understanding. You know you can’t understand a thing unless God tells you—unless God reveals it. The only thing you can truly call knowledge is not what comes to you from human mind to human mind. It’s something that God shows you in your heart and you know it and nobody can take that away from you, because God has put it there.

God put something in David that was such a confidence in the Person in whom he trusted…his Shepherd. He knew something about being a shepherd, didn’t he? He knew it was a commitment to those sheep. He knew that everything was laid on the line, that a shepherd would give his life for the sheep. And he knew that there was a God he served. And so, he was able to say, “But I trust in your unfailing love.” It’s a love that does not change! It is not held hostage, or it is not to be measured by anything that I can see in my life, in my circumstances, none of that has any bearing on whether God’s love is for me or against me.

But man, we waver. If we don’t see things working out the way we think they ought to work out, man…I don’t know…maybe there isn’t even a God after all. You know, the devil will jump on people and he will tell you anything he thinks he can get you to believe. It’s like slinging so much mud on the wall, he’s gonna keep slinging and so some of it sticks if we let it.

But I’ll tell you, God is wanting to bring forth a people in this hour, because it is an hour of darkness. If you’ve got any eyes to see, you see the spirit that is engulfing our world. You see it on a personal level, as lives are being destroyed. You see it on a…you just see the spirit that’s steering us away from Christ, away from God, away from anything that has to do with Jesus Christ and who He is and what He’s about. This world is absolutely running into the ditch. And God is allowing the spirit of the age to take over, but He is also bringing, and He’s calling out a people.

Folks, we’re gonna have to have what David had, because we’re gonna be…probably a lot of folks are in this place right now. There are things going on in your life and you have no answers. And you’re crying out to God and there’s no answers that are coming. What do you do? As I said, we have so many ways of holding God hostage. We’ll get an idea as to how we think things out to go. Lord, I’m praying. Here’s the answer, Lord. If I don’t see this, then there’s something wrong with You.

Don’t we pray that way? I mean, isn’t that really what’s behind a lot of our thinking? We get so married to an outcome that we have devised and imagined, and if God doesn’t live up to our expectations, something is wrong. Well God’s just a little bit bigger than we are. He’s just a little bit wiser and His love does not fail because things don’t work out the way you think they ought to work out, or on the time frame that you and I think they ought to work out.

‘Cause that’s the issue here. Four times David cries out, how long! I made this point the last time we used the Scripture. God wasn’t offended that David prayed that way. This was an honest cry from the heart. This was not somebody who’s shaking his fist and saying, oh God, I’m mad at You. You’re not living up to my expectations, God. I’m disgusted with You. Maybe You don’t even exist. This is somebody who’s just, there’s an honest anguish in his heart.

You know, one of the things that testifies to me about the reality and the truth of God’s word is the way He portrays people honestly. Man, you go through the pages of this book and you will see people just like us, warts and all. If they did something ugly, there it is in black and white. God just lays it right out there, so that we have no excuse looking back and saying they were different than we are. We have no right to expect that we can be like them.

We have a God who is full of mercy, and full of grace! It was God’s anointing that fell upon this Scripture and caused it to be preserved for us. He preserved the anguish, the honest anguish of a soul. And even though he had this faith, there was the emotional turmoil that he was wrestling with. Oh God, how long is this gonna go on. God, it just looks like darkness is prevailing, Lord. I’m crying out. I don’t know what to do, but You’re not even talking to me. Lord, how long is this gonna go on?

I’ll tell you how long it’s gonna go on. It’ll go on according to God’s purpose. God has the perfect time, the perfect plan. And His outcomes are not, most of the time, they’re not anything we could have imagined. Look at the testimony of people throughout the Scriptures who came into horrendous situations, difficult situations, and yet God…and yet the ending testimony was, God was faithful! I didn’t give up on God. I wavered, I struggled, I went through all these doubts, and all this wavering, and the enemy was pounding my mind, but I never gave up on God. I knew who He was. I knew my life was in His hands. I knew His Word was true. And so I trusted in Him and He didn’t let me down. He never failed me.

Of course, you have to really take the long look for a lot of that, don’t you? Because you do find people that absolutely were killed for their faith. Does that mean God failed? Does that mean God wasn’t faithful? I’ll guarantee there’s people in this book, and there’s people…this is happening across the globe today…there are people who are serving God with all their hearts, they’re crying out to Him, they’re asking for deliverance, and they’re paying for their faith with their life. Does that mean God is not faithful? Does that mean God has failed? No! Because when God works in a heart, the miracle of the new birth that He performs in a life, puts something in here the devil cannot destroy!

( congregational amens ).

There is nothing he can do to destroy what God has purposed to do whether we go by way of lying in a hospital bed when our time comes, or whether somebody cuts our head off with a sword for not denying Jesus. We are gonna stand there one day in His presence, and we are gonna bow and give Him glory and give Him praise because we will know that we were there, not because of any worthiness in us, but because of His grace that He worked in our hearts. Oh folks, if there’s somebody, if God is ever tugging on your heart, you open your heart to Him. He is worthy to be served!

( congregational amens ).

God wants you and me to have this kind of an anchor in our souls, because that’s what we need.

( congregational amens ).

We need to know that there is God whose Word can be trusted. It’s rooted in His character. And that’s the imagery you get in Hebrews 6, the scripture we’ve used so often. God wants us to have a hope that’s not just a ‘hope so,’ I wish this were the case. This is a solid conviction that only God can put in your heart…

( congregational amens ).

…That His Word is real, that He is true, that we can put our lives and our destinies in His hands and be safe not matter what happens in this world… bad stuff will happen.

( congregational amens ).

Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble.” (KJV). Why do we not believe Him? In the world you will have trouble, but cheer up! “I have overcome the world.”

( congregational amens ).

Jesus has overcome death itself! What can the devil do to those who put their trust in Him? Praise God! But none of that eliminates the need for what we’re talking about this morning. We will go through times like this when it seems like the heavens are brass and God does not fix situations to suit us! And we’re gonna have to have that anchor where we just stand fast.

“My heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD…” (NIV). There’s an exercise of David’s will in the face of everything that would be contrary. Nonetheless he says, I will. I’m making a conscious choice here. I now it doesn’t feel like it. I know nothing looks right, but I will praise Him. “I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me.”

Now see David does have a store of real experience with God. There were times when God did make Himself known to David in a way that David knew He was real. But somehow, God taught him, was teaching Him, as He teaches us, that we do not walk by those sensations and that constant reassurance…oh yeah, I guess I’m okay. He’s here, I feel Him, the icicles are running up and down my spine. I just feel this exhilaration all the time, so therefore, I know God is real.

No! God is real when He seems like He’s a million miles away. Nothing has changed with the one that puts their trust in Him. I mean, you can look at Scriptures that God has preserved for us in order that we might learn, in order that we might, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, have hope. Isn’t it interesting that Scripture says it’s through patience. There’s a sense in which we’re gonna have to do some waiting. We’re gonna have to do some standing. We’re gonna have to have a quality of spiritual endurance in the face of things, but that we through patience, and God gives us something.

It’s not like God gives us nothing. But when He does not give you a tangible sign or a feeling or any of those kinds of things, He’s giving you something. He’s giving you the promises of His Word. And I’ll tell you, if we have confidence in the One who gave us these promises, they will hold when nothing else will.

When you think of somebody like Joseph, talk about a prime example of somebody that got in the kind of situation that David’s talking about here. God had his hand on Joseph. It was evident. You remember the dreams that he had in which he saw his brothers and his father and his mother bowing down to him. And of course, that made everybody just thrilled.

( laughter ).

There were so happy that little Joseph was…they were gonna have to bow down to him! And oh I’ll tell you, there came a time when his brothers were so angry and so full of hatred and so full of bitterness, and you remember what happened. They took him and they were gonna kill him, if it hadn’t been for Reuben…I wonder who put that in Reuben’s heart?

( congregational response ).

You don’t think God’s in control? Here were a bunch of his brothers that actually, literally wanted to kill him. Reuben said, don’t do that. Let’s pretend he’s died, and let’s…anyway they wound up selling him to some merchants who were traveling to Egypt. And here is the man that God had given this word to, this promise, this hope, and everything…it looks like he’s going further and further and further from that promise. All of sudden he winds up as a slave. He hasn’t done anything wrong. He’s minding his own business and he’s trusting in God.

Now how many of us would have kept our integrity under those circumstances? How many of us would have given in to bitterness, to anger, to allowing something to get into our hearts and just fester? Man, if I ever get the chance, I’m gonna let those miserable, so-called brothers of mine have it. Man, I’m living for vengeance. That’s my new goal in life is to wreak vengeance on those who have done me wrong.

What an amazing testimony of integrity and God’s grace working in a life to see a man like Joseph be able to say, all right, this is where I’m at. Somehow he knew to continue to be a young man of integrity. All right I’m a slave, I’m gonna be the best slave I can be. I’m gonna be honorable. I’m gonna be trustworthy. I know everybody else is out for themselves. They’re gonna cheat. They’re gonna seek for self. I’m gonna be…but I serve my God, I know…I know He doesn’t stand for that kind of stuff. I know He’s a righteous God and I want to be like Him and I want to please Him, so I’m gonna do right.

And Potiphar, this important man in Egypt who’d bought him, recognized that whenever he put something into Joseph’s hands it was blessed. Potiphar, a heathen man in a foreign country, was reaping blessings because of recognizing that the hand of God was upon this young man. Do you think all of that would have happened if he had allowed that bitterness to take root in his heart?

Even though the scripture doesn’t record it, I’ll guarantee you—I will guarantee you that there were times when Joseph probably expressed himself and felt what David was feeling. This was not some short little cut two week adventure that he was on. This was something that took place over years. Now we can stand back and look at the story of Joseph’s life, and we can see the greater purpose of God and we can say, oh yeah, just hang on Joseph, it’s gonna be okay. We’re, you know, I know you’re feeling bad right now but we’re not a bit stressed. We know how this story comes out.

But Joseph didn’t know. He was a lot like us when we’re in the middle of something we don’t know. We don’t have the answers and it doesn’t feel good. It doesn’t look good. It looks like everything is going in the wrong direction. God, my purpose is over there, why am I over here? Why am I going further in this direction? Oh God, how long? Lord, you promised. How long, O Lord, am I gonna have to put up with this?

But he didn’t waste…evidently, I mean, it’s so evident from the story and from the account of his life, he didn’t waste time and allow that to infect what he did and how he thought and how he behaved. He was an honorable young man who served God. Folks, many times that’s what we need most. If God is not giving you the answer you want right now, we need to learn how to stand and how to put our trust in God.

What does the prophet Isaiah say? “Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light.” (KJV). What is he supposed to do? “…Trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God.” Stay. Don’t give up the ship. Put your faith in Him. And the thing that we need to be most concerned about is don’t build your own fire. You don’t have light, don’t try to make light. We serve a God who is in charge and who knows better than we do what outcome He wants.

So, of course, here’s Joseph and, you know, I can see where, in a sense, he would say, well, you know things aren’t so bad. I’m with a master who respects me. Yes I’m owned, but I’m respected. I have responsibilities. He’s put his entire household under my care because God is blessing me. Lord, this is good, Lord. I’m thanking You.