“We are urgent about the body; He is about the soul. We call for present comforts; He considers our everlasting rest. And therefore when He sends not the very things we ask, He hears us by sending greater than we can ask or think.”- Richard Cecil
“No soul can be really at rest until it has given up all dependence on everything else and has been forced to depend on the Lord alone. As long as our expectation is from other things, nothing but disappointment awaits us.”- Hannah Whitall Smith
Saturday night, I laid down in one of the softest beds I have slept in in quite some time. I closed my eyes, and was not woken up by screaming, or crying, or inconsolable pain from the room next door. Yesterday morning, I woke up ready to conquer whatever was ahead. It’s amazing what sleep can do for the body and soul.
In the world of special needs, sleep disturbance is a pretty common issue. So many people have it much more challenging than us- kids who are literally up most of the night, every night. It seems ours comes in spurts- the harder part being that Ally and Bailey Grace have yet to line up those spurts congruently. We were so grateful that our precious nurse, Amy, seemed to have an easier night while we were gone (to put that in perspective, I think she was only up a total of five times; with neither girl being up for too long when they did wake up). Last night, the tables had turned and while Bailey Grace was up some as well; Ally was now the one who seemed uncomfortable.
Last week, as I lay in bed around 3 am, contemplating yet again a medicine change or specific issue that could be the cause of the unknown, the Lord reminded me of two different seasons in this journey with our girls: first, He brought to mind the initial realization that our girls were unique. Then, He reminded me of our search for a diagnosis. What these two have in common is crucial: in the beginning of each, I prayed and prayed and prayed for both healing and answers. I wanted this whole thing to go away, and then, when it seemed as if God answered that prayer with, “Not yet”; I begged Him to at least give us more understanding on the whole thing. I realized that our night time debacles carried a similar theme:
“My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise You with joyful lips, when I remember You upon my bed, and meditate on You in the watches of the night; for You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I will sing for joy.”- Psalm 63:5-7
Don’t miss that. The truth is, while Saturday night’s sleep felt amazing, it had nothing to do with true rest. What I really need- what you really need- is rest of the soul. Each of our bodies are fading and in their own time, they will be no more. The souls of men- this is what matters. As I marinated on these verses, it hit me: we have already prayed for the girls to sleep through the night, and while there is nothing wrong with this prayer; it seems we are getting another, “Not yet” from God. If that is so, maybe what we really need is not sleep but rest. And- rest is found when we fix our eyes not on the circumstance but on the God above the circumstance. You see, each and every time the girls have woken up in the past (almost) three years, I have felt the same sinking frustration. It felt like, yet again, God had not answered my request.
Do you ever feel like that?
Do you ever feel like instead of responding, God pulls the rug out from under you yet again?
You pray and pray for a child, and the pregnancy test has one line over and over and over.
You beg God for your spouse to grow in his/her relationship with God, and it seems they are falling even further away.
You seek the prayers of many for healing, only to find new complications arising.
Is God not hearing? Or-almost more hurtful- is He just not answering your cries?
“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory…”- Ephesians 3:20-21
May we never believe the lie that His, “Not yet” or even, “No” is not His best for us.
Our perspective is imperfect and fleeting at best; His is eternal.
Might our prayers change from, “This is what I want” to, “Lord, show me what I need”.
May we look at our trials not crying, “Me, me, me”; but instead, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done”.
Because the truth is, what we really need is not for all our problems to go away. Deep down, our greatest need is that we would see our Creator above all that happens on this broken planet.
Until we begin resting in the truth that all He allows can be a good gift when filtered through the lenses of forever, we will be restless in the things that don’t make sense to our humanity.
Until we, as the Psalmist says above, begin to mediate on Him instead of our situations, our souls will not find satisfaction. Yet, in our darkest of nights, if we choose to see Him above it all- even the gates of hell will not be able to take away the calm He provides.
I wish I were someone who needed one lesson to learn the whole chapter- unfortunately, I’m a slow learner when it comes to this whole trust thing. That’s okay- there’s grace there. As I was awake with the girls last night, however, I smiled as He replaced my anxiety with more of His presence. I breathed in His promises and relaxed in the shadow of His wings, and reminded myself of all the ways He has shown His goodness to not only our family but also our brothers and sisters in the faith. I don’t know if we will ever experience sleeping through the night again, but this I do know: He is faithful. He is responsible. He is loving. Our rest comes solely from Him; and no night of sleep will ever provide the peace that trusting our God can. Seeing God in everything makes life one long thanksgiving and brings the greatest rest of all- rest of mind and heart and soul. May we cling to this today and always.
“Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”- John 21:25