WHAT WE 'SEE' IN THE DARK
Most nights during Catie’s years of treatment, I would quickly fall asleep. I was exhausted. But in the early morning hours, I would often wake up and struggle to get back to sleep. Sometimes I would pray. Other times, I’d listen to talk radio, wrestle with unanswerable questions, or get up and read. But mostly I would just toss and turn, hoping for sleep to take away my troubled thoughts. I could identify with David who said, “I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears.” (Psalm 6:6) During the night I would lose perspective. Little things would morph into overwhelming giants until the morning light chased them away. Dreadful thoughts consumed my peace and spoiled my sleep. My batteries never fully recharged. How to get through the nights? How to quiet my soul in the early morning hours? How to regain perspective before the morning light? Maintaining perspective in dark times is nearly impossible. Passive resistance will never do. We must become proactive to understand and address the giants that lurk in the shadows and come out in the dark. Peter, who was well acquainted with suffering, reminds us that Jesus left us an example of how to suffer. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. . . when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. (1 Peter 2:21-23) Peter’s advice ends with the reminder that Jesus, “entrusted himself to Him who judges justly.” The word entrusted has at its root the idea of surrender. So how do we surrender our troubled thoughts? How do we entrust our painful feelings to the One who judges justly? Throughout his short letter, Peter provides at least three clues to help us answer those questions.
“For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” (1 Peter 2:25) The imagery of a wandering sheep is used throughout the Bible for subtle or overt spiritual rebellion. And sometimes our pain is self-inflicted: we sin, we err, we wander away from God. We entrust ourselves to God when we confess our sin, and return to the loving embrace of the Shepherd, and Overseer of our souls.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time.” (1 Peter 5:6) The Bible’s imagery of God’s mighty hand primarily symbolizes His protection. God does not humiliate us; rather, He protects us when we assume a posture of humility. As hard as we try, many problems are beyond our ability and control: the divorce is final, bankruptcy declared, diagnosis confirmed. Humility admits that we can do no more and asks for help. In our humility, God is always there to protect and care for us. We entrust ourselves to God when we humbly recognize our limits and trust that in due time – the right time – in this world or the next, God will set all things right; He will lift us up.
“Cast all your anxiety on him because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) Fear is a cancer that grows at night. In the dark, threats, fears, concerns, and worries swell far beyond their normal size. They expand to fill and overwhelm our semi-conscious minds. Remember, no matter how bloated our anxieties appear in the middle of the night, God is bigger, God is stronger, God is available, and God cares. We entrust ourselves to God when we surrender our fears into God’s care. He loves us more than our inflated nighttime worries can menace us.
In the night, confess your sin and return to the Shepherd and Overseer of your soul. In the darkness, humbly recognize your limits and trust God to someday make things right. And when those dark ghouls come for a visit, remember – the God who loves and cares for us is bigger, stronger, and more powerful than any giant that can come our way. Dan Bolin President Refueling in Flight Ministries, Inc