I’ve said before that I am not a fan of the dark… not since I was little and I remember being afraid at night to go out to the car to look for something… not now when I have need to walk around camp in the pitch-blackness. Nope.not.a.fan.not.even.a.little.bit. And I sure do like my sleep.
All too often though, life beckons us to wake when we might otherwise be sleeping.Through the watches of the night… when others slumber… but, for you, sleep evades and insomnia wins. Through the watches of the night… when others dream… but, for you, the night brings terror. Through the watches of the night… when others heal in sleep… but, for you, pain keeps you wakeful. Through the watches of the night… when others relax… but, for you, nerves intensify. Through the watches of the night… when others say a quick bedtime prayer… but, for you, intercession lasts for hours. Through the watches of the night… when others say, “good night” and close the door… but, for you, sitting bedside with the infirmed has just begun. Through the watches of the night… when others snuggle peacefully under blankets… but, for you, night watch has just begun. Through the watches of the night…
“Watches of the Night”… a phrase that I used without hesitation, envisioning a person whose duty it was to keep watch during the hours of darkness and be a source of protection during this vulnerable time. I wondered the origin of the phrase and found it is an old concept . The Jews, (Greeks, Romans, and others too), divided the night into military watches: 6pm-9pm, 9pm-midnight, midnight- 3am, 3am-6am. Night Watch can be necessary as protection from a known danger or a good practice even when no known threat is imminent.
There have been more times in my life than I’d like to remember when night was anything but restful. Sickness, nightmares that stole my sleep, anxieties that wouldn’t wait until morning, depression that felt like the walls were closing in, calls from friends in need, sick children needing care, work that never ends.
Psalm 63 speaks right to the heart of those “watches.”6 On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. 7 Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. 8 I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.
We have a choice when the watches of the night have us clenched in their unrelenting grasp:
We can succumb to the external darkness looking to swallow us whole from the inside.
We can remember and rely upon the one who NEVER sleeps or slumber, from whom nothing is hidden, who is continually causing all things to work together for our good, and who LOVES us with unrelenting grace!
When the watches of the night seek to steal your sleep, erode your peace, torment your mind… in those moments remember Psalm 63 and cling to the Lord!
Father, you know how the darkness of night can make our trials and struggles attack us when we are fatigued and leave us feeling defenseless. Though we may struggle “alone,” grant us the presence of mind, the humility we need to know you do not call us to stand watch by ourselves. Instead, Lord, in the deep of the night, when all other strength seems inadequate to rescue, give us the truth: you are ALWAYS with us! You never slumber! You are our shelter, our strong tower, our refuge… let us cling to you through the watches of the night. And for those who the darkness is too deep and the watch of the night too terrifying, help us be a light of comfort and security guiding them to you!
In researching this post I found a poem that is TOO GOOD TO MISS! Please take a look at this poem:
The Watches of the Night
By Kristyn GettyI look towards the wintering trees To hush my fretful soul As they rise to face the icy sky And hold fast beneath the snow Their rings grow wide, their roots go deep That they might hold their height And stand like valiant soldiers Through the watches of the night No human shoulder ever bears The weight of all the world But hearts can sink beneath the ache Of trouble’s sudden surge Yet far beyond full knowing There’s a strong unsleeping light That reaches round to hold me Through the watches of the night I have cried upon the steps that seem Too steep for me to climb And I’ve prayed against a burden I did not want to be mine But here I am and this is where You’re calling me to fight And You I will remember Through the watches of the night You I will remember Through the watches of the night