How often have you felt this way? How many times have you asked the Lord to take away some illness, confusion, suffering, loneliness, frustration, shortcoming, whether it’s your own, or someone else’s? My guess is, most of us ask this fairly frequently.
Suffering is universal. In the book of Job, which is about extreme suffering, we find these words: “man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7). As the ancients sat around the campfire and saw that the sparks from the fire always went up with the heat of the fire, so their observation of life taught them that anyone born will inevitably experience the heat of human suffering sooner or later.
It raises a question: where did we get this idea that suffering is not good? Where does the longing to be free from it come from? Is it just that our nerve endings tell us it’s painful (as they certainly do), or our brain circuits overload? The bible’s answer is that we were made in the image of God, with a longing for perfection and rightness. We were designed to live in perfect relationship with God and each other. Because we chose to go it alone, and live with ourselves as our own final reference point, the whole created order was disrupted. But that’s not the end of the story. God is inevitably moving everything towards the day when evil, suffering, and the creation’s disjointedness will finally be dealt with, and the new heaven and the new earth will be forever established.
The answer to the question “how long?’ is that we’re not told. But the fact that the person asking this question (David, in Psalm 13) addresses it to God tells us who does know, and who we can trust in the meantime to keep us and prepare us for the new heaven and the new earth. David ends up saying: But I have trusted in your steadfast love, my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. (Psalm 13:5)