Embracing the Night
- Jen Booth Crosswalk.com Contributor
- 2012 23 Feb
How are you doing right now? Are you facing a trial, a storm… or something more suffocating, like a long-encamped darkness?
You know what I mean. Beyond a temporary storm of life, the darkness settles in around you and squeezes tightly. Maybe you have lost someone you love in a terrible way. Maybe your marriage has ended, you are in bankruptcy, or facing a terrible illness. Or, the storms of life have come at you one after the other, with no reprieve in between, until all you can feel is the darkness. The stress of surviving each day and the weight of the burden you carry overwhelms you.
Grief. Affliction. Depression. Addiction. You know what it is to walk through the night. And you know that often, the night has no end.
If you are like me, you still want to serve Jesus…but in exhaustion and pain, you cry, “What do you expect of me, God? Why is this happening? How am I supposed to dedicate my day to you when I can’t get out of bed in the morning without tears?”
And sometimes, we say, “God, I just can’t do this. It’s impossible.”
That was my cry for a long time. I have walked -- and still walk -- the night, but now, the night is not all I know. My world has bloomed into a beautiful day, such that though the night remains, the light surrounds it. Or I should say, the Light.
In 2005, my mother was diagnosed with a very rare and terminal cancer. Having worked in healthcare, I knew what to expect at the end of her illness, and I dreaded it. That was my first encounter with the night. Four years later, I was diagnosed with a chronic and frequently painful illness. A few months after that, my sweet mother went home to Jesus.
That was the most difficult time of my life, and I felt overwhelmed by the darkness. However, my night was only beginning.
Several months after Mama’s death, I learned I was pregnant. My husband and I were thrilled, but the pregnancy was grueling. I was on bed-rest the last 2 months, and our son was born a month early. He was rushed immediately to the NICU, where he battled multiple problems. One day, as I was holding him, he stopped breathing in my arms. Thankfully, he was quickly revived, but I was a wreck.
He spent three weeks there. One week into it, while I was still recovering from my C-section, we faced a horrible tragedy in my family. For the sake of those involved, I will not give details. This tragedy, though, has no end. It is ever present before me. It is the depth of my night.
When it happened, I cried out to God like never before. I practically screamed, “I can’t do this!” But immediately I heard my voice, “But You can.” That became my constant prayer: I can’t do this, but You can. Admitting my helplessness and complete dependence on God brought a strange peace to the chaos. He tells us He gives the “peace that passes understanding,” and I inhaled it.
Somehow, in the midst of the pain, both physical and emotional, I was able to focus. It was not because I am a spiritual super woman. Nothing could be farther from the truth! I am naturally very weak and emotional. God picked me up above the turmoil and carried me. He carries me still. It is such sweet relief to know that He will never let me walk the night alone. Unless I choose to go it alone.
I don’t recommend that. You absolutely cannot face the night without Him. I could never have survived psychologically, let alone make any sense of what we went through without His arms around me, and without His Word to guide me. I could never have seen the blessings He poured out from that night.
Yes, blessings. One, I gained a deeper respect and love for my husband. He was and is my hero, consistently encouraging me to trust our Father and handling tasks that I could not. We became closer with each dilemma.
And my friends, like true warriors, fought for us in prayer. They prayed with me often, and imparted scripture and strength every day.
Also, our precious baby is a blessing. My grandfather died February 21st, and my mother years later on February 10th. I thought I would always hate February… but Caleb was born February 17th. I know it was not coincidence. God took away so much of the pain with perfect timing. And though he endured a lot, Caleb is now happy and healthy.
As for the part that will not end… I learned to trust God. Not in some philosophical way, nor in a happy cliché. I learned to really trust Him, because I had no other option. When the night brought me to my knees, I could see Him. He demonstrated His love for me over and over – for me! A sinner only saved by His grace, and completely unworthy of His attention. I learned for the first time what Paul really meant when he said, “I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”
He cares about you and what you are going through. Let Him carry you through the night like He did me. Give Him your life and trust His love. You can’t deserve it, but it’s there. And He longs to comfort and strengthen you, and to pour blessings on you. He longs for you to see Him more clearly through the darkness.
I still have days that I cry, and some days that I cry out, “Help me, Father! I’m drowning!” But my cry now is not as fraught with desperation, but with a conviction that I will get the help I seek. And the night is bearable… it does get better!
As I hug my husband, as I look into my son’s eyes, and as I quietly meditate on God’s goodness, I know that though I walk the night, my life is more wonderful now than it has ever been. I pray you will experience this, too.
Psalm 34:18 - The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 147:3 - He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
Matthew 11:28-30 - Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
Philippians 4:11 - I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Jen Booth is a stay-at-home mom and a budding author. She resides with her husband in Louisiana. You can contact her at [email protected].