It’s been a long week, a really long week. I’ve been running behind since before I started running, and I still haven’t caught up. There’s a neverending list of things to do I haven’t gotten to, and I don’t really know that I’ve managed to check off much from the neverending list of things to do I’ve already started. But last night, in the middle of the night, the Lord spoke to my soul and gave me the strength and the hope to go on.
It was a little after four o’clock this morning when I heard my daughter scream. I jumped out of bed and hurried to see what was wrong. Fortunately, it was just a bad dream and she was back to sleep before I even found out what the dream was about. Unfortunately, I was wide awake.
As tired as I was, I could not go back to sleep. I lay in bed for about an hour, tossing and turning and trying to go back to sleep. Every thought that could have been thought ran through my mind. I thought about work and the things I needed to get done today. I thought about classes and what I would teach—today, tomorrow, and even next year. I thought about my past and how different it was from the life I lead now. I thought about a client at work whose life reminds me so much of the life I used to lead and how I wanted to be a good example of Christian life. I thought and I questioned and I thought some more. Finally, this feeling washed over me that I needed to get up and go pick up my Bible. Even though that is something I often do on nights like last night when I just can’t sleep, the need to go read just felt stronger last night than usual.
I got out of bed and walked the the living room. I picked up my Bible and went over the the couch and sat down. I closed my eyes and I prayed. I asked the Lord to guide me and to lead me to something that would help me. When I finished praying, I opened my eyes and I opened my Bible, letting it fall open to the page it chose. It opened to page 910, not a page I had marked or had someting stuck in as often happens, but just a regular old page.
On the second column of page 910, Psalm 78 began. Normally I would start reading there since it was the beginning of something whole on the page rather than starting at a verse within another chapter or psalm. Something last night drew me to start at the first verse on the page, verse 3 of Psalm 77. Here is what I read:
“I remembered God and was troubled. I complained and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah.
Thou holdest mine eyes waking; I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times.
I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with my own heart: and my spirit made diligent search.” (Psalm 77: 3-6 KJV)
At that point, I had to stop and laugh out loud. Our God has such an amazing way! I had asked Him to help me. In my heart, I wanted to know what to do about all the things I was thinking about. I wanted a way to stop thinking. I wanted comfort. I wanted to know what to do. But most of all, I wanted to know that God understood. And there, shining before me, was my answer.
God knew exactly what I was going through, even more than I did. He could put into words the things my mind hadn’t been able to. The words I had read—right down to my eyes being held open in the middle of the night—were exactly where I was. As I read on, the psalmist asked question after question, the same thing I had been doing to myself. The psalm spoke of wondering if God had cut off His mercy and if He kept His promises. In my heart, my desire to know if God understood had done just that.
But, the most amazing part was that God not only understood what I was going through, but He had the answer to my problem. Here is His answer:
“I will remember the works of the Lord; surely I will remember Thy wonders of old.
I will meditate also of all Thy work, and talk of Thy doings.
“Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God?” (Psalm 77: 11-14 KJV)
God wanted me to stop concentrating on the future and what it might hold. He wanted me to stop worrying about the bad things of the past. He wanted me to simply trust in Him and know that He understands, cares, provides, and protects. Instead of worrying and thinking about things that would still be there the next day or that had no bearing on the next day because they were already past, I needed to stop and refocus on God.
Over the years, I have found that cultivating a grateful heart has been one of the things that has gotten me through the hardest times. It has helped my family grow together. It has taught me that everything I have is a gift from God, and it has taught my children the same thing. Every night, our family sits down together and shares what we are each thankful for that day. Every so often, we stop and make a list of at least 50 things that God has done for us, and we always seem to find them.
Last night, I have no doubt in my mind that God was telling me that I needed to stop and refocus on Him and His blessings and that by doing that, my eyes that were being held awake would be able to sleep again. Today, sharing this message with you, I know that God has the same message for each of you.
Take time today to stop and refocus on the wonderful things that God has done for you. Look past whatever is going on at this moment, no matter how dire it may be, and be thankful for something. No matter how small you start, cultivating thankfulness in your life can bring you comfort and joy that will strengthen you, even in the darkest times. God is there. He understands. And, most of all, He cares about what you’re going through.
“Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” (Psalm 106:1 KJV)