Even At Night

Over the past few months you have followed my story and prayed with me and for me, that God might heal me and give me rest.  There were many nights that I lay awake remembering, admittedly at times with bitterness, His promise, “…for he grants sleep to those he loves.”  I am pleased to tell you that I have been sleeping quite well for the most part for the past several weeks.  The herky-jerkies, as I like to call them, still happen every night but they are much smaller than they were before and they don’t seem to bother me enough to keep me awake for very long.  God has indeed been granting me sleep.  For all the days when I wondered if I would ever sleep peacefully again, I have had at least as many good nights of sleep.  And I feel like a new person.  Not only does my body feel renewed, more importantly my spirit does.

What seems like foolishness to us (for what earthly good can we imagine the torment of sleeplessness to be?) is the wisdom of God.  Many a night I spent literally crying out to God for relief and rest and sometimes screaming out in despair at the “unfairness” of feeling like the only soul in the Western hemisphere who wasn’t asleep (though in reality I knew there were probably a goodly amount of people who were awake for one reason or another.)  But then God woke me up.  Sure enough, my eyes were open.  And puffy.  And getting unsightly purplish bags under them.  But I had not been awake to what He was or could be doing.

Eph. 5:13 “But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said:
“Wake up, O sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”  15Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”

Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh; itself a picture of good arising from less than ideal circumstances and brightness being revealed at night as it was painted from the view he saw out his asylum window.

He woke me up and Christ shone on me even in my sleep deprived stupor.  I saw the glory of what He had done for me on the cross and I saw the glory of what could be done in me and through me through something as “foolish” and seemingly pointless as sleep deprivation.

When I was with my friend, Catherine, she reminded me of something as we prayed for God to heal me.  She reminded me of the blind man to whom Jesus gave sight.

Matthew 8:22They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. 23He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”

24He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”

25Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t go into the village.”

She reminded me that God does things in steps sometimes and He doesn’t do it that way because He couldn’t do it faster.  Jesus surely didn’t have to go back for a second round to heal this man.  He did it in steps for a reason.  Many who come to Christ don’t have a single “moment” where they can say, “Look, this is the very moment I came to faith and suddenly all was made clear.”  All who come to Christ see very dimly at first, whether they trust Him first as a tiny child or as a grown person.  Regardless of their size, their faith is usually small — a tiny seed.  But even this new sight allows them to behold things that they never before imagined.  They see light and they see shapes and shadows of the truth and they say, “I believe, help me in my unbelief!”  And they begin to see things as they truly are with growing clarity.

And the same can be said for us when we endure trials and can’t see the forest for the trees.  He may not answer us in the affirmative quickly.  Indeed for many the answer will never come in the form that they hope and pray it will but will they also remain deaf to that which God might be saying “Yes?”

I am a Christian and have been for years, since I was a child.  As a child I saw Him as my savior but He looked more like… well, a tree.  I recognized the cross as important but I didn’t, and in my spiritual immaturity couldn’t, internalize all that it meant in every area of life.  The basics of the gift of faith were there but there was definitely room for improvement in my spiritual sight.  As a child, the tree was all I needed to know to trust Him.  And the tree doesn’t shrink in value as you begin to behold Christ more clearly.  It’s a tree that grows with you as you begin to behold it for what it is.  Still, the older I grow, the more I appreciate the tree, but also, the more work He does on my spiritual eyes, the more I see my Savior as a real live person and all that that means.  I continue to need his prescription to see Him better.  I have to return to Jesus over and over and over that I might be given His new and ever clearer prescription for the renewal and improvement of my view of Him.  The prescription might be something as “foolish” or strange as spit… or sleep deprivation or loss or poverty, or anything else that we can’t imagine a good reason for.

As I struggled with waiting on God in the last few months, I knew that others were enduring far worse for far longer than I.  But even in the midst of my sleeplessness when I feared that I might never have a normal night’s sleep again and my eyes actually ached from having been open for too long, Jesus opened the eyes of my heart and showed me the answers to the questions that I was not asking Him.  And He gave me hope for the struggle I was enduring.  He made things bright and clear even in the darkness and depth of the nighttime of my soul.

His healing doesn’t always touch the things we want it to touch when we want it to touch it.  But it addresses the real problems we have that we tend to consider far less real than the temporal things we face from day to day.  We might feel that our brokenness is primarily in the area for which we are seeking His healing.  But He will operate on the source of the brokenness and He will heal us with a healing that will last forever.  We will all go through life with a certain amount of sorrow, suffering and grief.  Some have bigger portions than others.  But I have found that those with the larger portions of suffering and sorrow and grief have an even greater portion of grace and even joy when they are abiding in Christ.

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

So if you are enduring something that you think may never end, keep returning to the one who is able to make your vision of Him, and all that He is doing and has made, clearer by whatever means He chooses, each time you return to Him in faith.

While God has seen fit to bless me with sleep over the last several weeks he has simultaneously awoken my husband in the night and kept him from getting a full night’s rest for a while now.  I’m not sure why it always seems to work this way but clearly God works on husbands and wives in turns so that one of them always seems to be getting a somewhat better night’s sleep than the other!  Fortunately my husband’s inability to sleep lately hasn’t been accompanied by any strange medical phenomena.  And just as God worked on me in the night, He is working on my man.  This morning The Pastor reminded me of this Psalm that he was reflecting on at quarter to four in the morning.  Psalm 16.

6 The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
7I bless the LORD who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
8 I have set the LORD always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

David obviously wrote this in a time of trouble as in v. 1 he asks God to keep him safe and tells Him that he has taken refuge in Him.  He then goes on to remind himself of how good God has been to him and how he knows that he will enjoy security in God both physically and spiritually, and not only security but pleasure in Him both temporally and eternally.  He saw clearly in the darkness, both the darkness of night and the darkness of his life experiences.

The Pastor responds more quickly to God’s leading than I do I guess, which is good.  I want a husband and spiritual leader who is ready and willing to hear what God would teach him through his inner and outward battles.  It took me several weeks to begin thinking spiritually about my circumstances.  While it took me a relatively short time to start asking God to heal me, it took me a good deal longer to understand and accept that He was healing something much more broken by allowing me to suffer, it has taken the pastor a much shorter time to glean wisdom from his sleeplessness.

He wrote this poem this morning when most of us were fast asleep.

Night School

sleep was a given
now I’m living in a time zone
all alone
with just me and God for company

faced with myself
counting time
cracking bones
repeating lines my brothers before me
screamed out in the night

faced with your goodness
thirsty for answers
taking notes
your mysteries make more sense
than the things I know

in the silence of night
I’ve met a brotherhood
More real than my life
Aches more helpful
than comfort
lines carved by a sharp and burning light
tracing a picture of the face that a busy life forgot

you’re the only one
who throws someone in the deep end
to teach him to breathe
you jump in too
singing I will never leave

adrenalin junkies
Sunday school flunkies
meet themselves coming back
at the feet of the King who kneels to rule
at night school

On top of what God is teaching The Pastor about Himself and about himself through this period of time, it seems He is also teaching him just a little bit about how I felt many of those days after nights when I had gotten little to no sleep.  God is very skilled at killing more than one bird with a single stone.  Pray that my husband’s sleep difficulties might grow into tasty fruit and healing leaves.

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One thought on “Even At Night”

  1. This is a good post, Nan. And your hubby is a good writer – but you already knew that. Add this poem to the family archives. I especially like the next to last stanza.

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