I was listening to a familiar hymn today and noticed the phrase "in the night season." When I was young, I always thought it meant "nighttime" — when the sun went down and it was night. But today I saw it differently. "Night season" could also mean "hard times," "dark valleys" or "total heartbreak."
It's easy to consider God and give Him full credit when you're experiencing shady days and cool, quiet nights. The breeze of life's happy events fluffs your spirit and puts a spring in your step. You can't imagine life any other way. For sure, God is SO good, He'll get you through anything! How can you possibly question?
But then the hard times hit: The spouse calls it quits, the cancer is terminal, the accident victim doesn't survive or the baby who was longed for doesn't arrive. "Night season" has come, like a dark enveloping shroud, leaving you sobbing, perhaps even screaming in anguish. Your breath comes in choking gasps, and you struggle to stand upright. In shock you stagger through the days that follow. Going through the motions, nodding in acknowledgment to endless condolences, accepting sorrowful hugs. Even on the sunniest day, it still feels like night. Sleep comes, but only for short hours, then silence fills the darkness. The rest of the world sleeps on, but there will be nor more for you that night. Instead, questions parade through your exhausted head: "What now? Who will help me? What about the kids? How can I face another day?" It seems that no answers come. It's the "night season." And as the days progress to weeks, people go back to their jobs, their families, their lives. But you're left in the dark. It encompasses you, surrounding you in every sigh, in every unwanted meal and in more sleepless nights.
"God allows hard times to come to bring glory to Himself." The first time I read that statement, I thought "WHAT? How can that be? It's so dark; how can this bring glory to my God? I can't move! I can't stop crying! I can't formulate sentences...this can't possibly be glorifying to God!" I wondered aloud how long this pain would endure. No one offered pat answers. "It's different for everyone." That wasn't much help. I wanted a timeline, something concrete to look forward to! But God had a different plan. Each day, and then in the night, He assured me of His loving care and tender watch over me. I became more aware of His presence than I'd ever been in my life. He was right there, holding me while I wept on His chest. The days turned into weeks, and He showed me that He had made a path before me. Sometimes the realization of His Presence before me took my breath away! God was getting glory because He was showing Himself to me in ways I'd never seen before!
Dark times don't only come when tragedy strikes. Sometimes discouragement and despondency arrive with a truckload of "small" problems. The car breaks down, the kids get sick, the phone quits working and someone is rude. By itself, one of these events might be tolerated, but when they all arrive in a short time, it's easy to question God: "What in the world?" Sometimes it's harder to trust God during the times of "small" inconveniences than it is during the BIG ones. After all, none of these "small" events are life-threatening. Other people have it much worse than we do. So why does it feel like the darkness is threatening to enshroud us? It's the "night season."
Seasons of intense darkness force us to seek the only true Light to find our way. God has promised He'll never leave us or forsake us. That promise is true, and cannot fail, even when we don't feel His presence. His Word is a light for us to follow — guiding the way in the most intense darkness. We may not see that light, because we're too intent on the darkness. We can't stop thinking about the problems or the tragedy that has brought us to our "night season." That's when we need to wait on the Lord.
Waiting is more of an attitude than it is a position. It's the quiet expectation, knowing God has everything well-planned and perfectly timed. That waiting is not frantic or edgy. It's peaceful and trusting. It's the time we turn off the radio in the car and drive in silence. Or we shut off the TV and let our heart empty out before Him. Shutting off noises and forcing ourselves to listen in the stillness is an intense act of the will. "Be still and know that I am God." The real Light for our life's darkness is found in quiet consideration of God's Word. We'll hear Him when we stop to listen. We need to force ourselves to schedule God into our lives just as we'd schedule a day off or supper with friends. If we really think about it, we'll see where we can forego other details in our lives and spend that time instead reading the Bible and quietly considering our loving Heavenly Father. I have met Him and waited quietly many times. It is there He has lovingly lit the way through my "night seasons." I know He'll do the same for you!
From the Word...
Wait on the Lord;
be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say on the Lord.
But those who wait on the Lord
shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles;
They shall run and not be weary;
They shall walk and not faint.