It’s 3am and blinding pain from one of my killer headaches wakes me from sleep. I stagger to the kitchen as quietly as possible and pour water into the Keurig to make a quick 20 oz of coffee. The only thing that helps.
The house is silent. Tom and Emily are deep in sleep. I sit with the coffee, trying not to burn myself on the hot liquid–medicine for me that I can’t get down fast enough. I rock back and forth, back and forth in my rocker, waiting for the moment when my head will ease.
The worst of the pain lets up, and I can think again. My mind drifts to each of my children and where they are in their lives. The relief from the pain is growing, and every time, it brings tears to my eyes that I am feeling better. It’s some kind of response to the dissipation of pain and it happens every time. I pray for answers and help in our lives for a few minutes. Then I feel the need for a human voice. I pick up my phone next to me on the lamp table and find Alexander Scourby’s reading of the Psalms. The beauty and authority of his reading of Scripture is always a great comfort. I put my head back on the chair and listen to him begin.
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.
Somewhere in the Psalms that continue in Scourby’s lovely voice , I drift off to the familiar cadences of those beautiful, ancient words. Relief, peace, the sense that God is near.
I recently saw a painting that depicted Jesus sitting on a bench with a young man. It was supposed to represent heaven, and the young man appeared to be asking questions. It made me wonder if we will be able to ask the Lord questions about this life and why things were the way they were. All the seemingly pointless suffering, meaningless pain and hurt. Then it occurred to me that if we were going to remember the bad in this life, it wouldn’t be much of a heaven. Every tear, Scripture tells us, will be wiped away in that place where there is no need of the sun, because the light of the Lamb will be enough. No more darkness. No more night.
I can’t pretend to understand what all our pain means in this life, only that in the darkness, in the night watches there are unexpected shafts of light, reminders of God, the God beloved of the Psalmist who played his harp beneath the starry skies on the hills, who wrote the words we still know today. Maybe in the bright light of day we are too quick to forget God, and it’s only when He allows us to awaken with pain that we are reminded of His presence. When we’re always strong, and able, and go from strength to strength in our own might, we tend to forget Him. In our great need, we are driven to remember our frailty, that we are dust, and that all we have comes from our Creator’s kindly hand.
In the night watches of our lives, help us to find the treasures of darkness, Heavenly Father. Because they are there, waiting for us.
And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness–secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name. ~ Isaiah 45:3