“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases…..his mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning, new every morning. Great is your faithfulness, O Lord….great is your faithfulness.”
This lyric, taken from the book of Lamentations, is so precious to me. It’s an encouraging reminder that hope is renewed each and every day, just by waking up and knowing that God is still God. And that God is still good.
For much of my life I was what you might call a “fitful” sleeper. Well, not actually fitful sleeper, I guess….more of a fitful “go-to-sleeper!” My days were full-speed ahead with raising a family, serving God and the people of whatever church we were a part of, friends, family, clubs, committees, sports……just…..the stuff of life. And for the most part I sailed through those days with relative ease. Until I settled in for the night, and lying there in the quiet and the dark, my tired body would duke it out with my wide-awake mind and I would find myself thinking about…..everything! Things that hadn’t even crossed my mind during the day were suddenly front and center in my mind when I wasn’t distracted by all the movement and business of the day.
I would nudge my husband and really “need” to talk about suddenly 0h-so-important things like how we might save for the kids’ educations or how we might encourage more leadership development in church or when I might go back to college or why I never took up the guitar…..well, you get the idea. =)
But to be honest (which I promised to do during the course of these Lenten blogs,) the thoughts were often more dark and troubled. I would replay a difficult discussion or encounter with a friend and wonder if I had said the right things….I would wonder if we were doing everything we could as parents to raise our kids in the love and light of God….I would at times be overcome with thoughts of inadequacy and doubt. After all, who was I to stand and lead seeking worshippers in church each week when I felt so far from who I longed to be…..hard, hard thoughts, feelings ….laments that would rob me of sleep. And peace.
Then…..it would be morning. And the mercies were brand new for the new day, and there was fresh hope and strength all over again. I would wonder why I laid awake so long the night before. My outlook was better and I would just kind of shake my head at my “night self” for allowing such worry. Sweet, sweet morning mercies!
Several years ago, by some great, amazing enormous gift of insight I finally realized that I did not have to be held captive to the night worries. I had a choice. Now, for those of you who haven’t struggled with worry, I know it must seem like such a no-brainer….if it makes you feel bad to think about such things, just don’t do it! And I love you people! I make it a rule to have at least a few such pragmatists in my life at all times specifically for the balance you bring. But I have come to embrace the emotional creature that I am as one created by God to feel deep things and sometimes that means thinking deep thoughts as well. So I don’t need to fear the “night thoughts” any longer, but I DO need to choose the thoughts I carry close to my heart wisely. Especially as I lay myself to sleep.
Now when I lay down with a heavy heart I ask God two things:
1. to carry the hurt or the burden for me through the night so I can rest, and….
2. I ask for a specific answer to come to me in the early morning hours – that mysterious time between sleep and wake when I hear God best – and then I recount the faithfulness of God until I fall asleep. I replay the years of blessing and companionship I’ve been blessed with and sometimes it’s still hard to fall asleep….as tears fall….but with a heart full of gratitude rather than worry.
As we walk through this week of sorrow and suffering together, know that you are not alone. Not in the day. Not in the night. Not for a second. Whatever cares that you may be carrying with you tonight, know that God lives in the very places that we feel the deepest.
Sweet sleep, friends. And happy morning mercies!