Despite the quieter night time volume outside my hospital room door, despair and fear were loudly whirling around within. The weaning of pain meds and my growing awakened state opened my eyes to my situation. Implications of a broken body wreaked havoc on my mind . Is this real?
I was alone feeling vulnerable while my family snoozed in the comfort of my home a few miles away. And recognizing our separation at night became too much to comprehend. In addition, my unconscious state at the time of the accident created a fear of being asleep. What else would happen if I nodded off? I sat in the silence, reminded by the light radiating from the wall that darkness had not completely enveloped me.
Nights had always been a comfort zone for me. For the majority of my 55 years, I longed for the serene mood of evening. Watching a favorite show or curling up with a good book gives me a calming ending to my day. The humming of the dishwasher or summer sounds outside my window serenaded me to a calming place.
But, ironically, only two months before, Tish Warren Harrison’s words in her book Prayer in the Night awakened me to new perspectives. They shaped my theology, particularly theodicy (Where is God in suffering?) Little did I know an impulsive decision to join a book club studying her book about navigating “nights” would be so prophetic so soon.
There is a reckoning that happens when you physically cannot not escape the night. Severe injuries including a broken leg literally prevented me from getting away. My desperate mind imagined hobbling out of bed but I knew it was not an option. Lack of control is humbling.
But I know I am far from the only one who has encountered nights. God has always met us in them. I clung to the practice of lament, crying out my pain and frustration. I held to the words of scriptural promises that have remained true throughout time. Tish writes that the prayers “tether” us. When you feel a lack of control, that’s an adequate description.
I am finding peace with nights. Some seem longer than other. But Tish reminds me, “Our posture of waiting does not deny the horrors of the night, but it bets on the morning to come.”
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