The Longest Night

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It’s 4am and I can’t sleep. I’ve been up for about an hour, thinking, pondering, reflecting and praying. That’s not unusual, as there have been many nights where I am awakened in the wee hours for some reason. I see it as God’s way of getting my attention when I am too distracted during the day to notice.

This time God had me pay attention to my soul. My soul was disturbed tonight because it was lamenting.

I am lamenting.

I lament over the loss of my dear, sweet Grandma. Though she lived to be 95, she (and we) suffered the slow death of her mind to Alzheimer’s. Tomorrow, I’ve been given the honor and responsibility to officiate over her funeral and burial.

I lament over my son’s failed marriage. The past several months have been difficult and tearful as we face the storm that engulfs our son, our daughter-in-law, and our grandsons.

I lament over Vivienne, my sister-in-law’s, sudden loss of her father to a stroke earlier this month. She is also weakened in health due to several bouts of cancer, involving many chemo and radiation treatments.

I lament for my cousin, Mark, who is suffering from kidney failure. He was to have had a transplant operation today, but the potential donor fell through.

I lament for a dear blog colleague, Les, who lives in the long shadow and memory of his wife and disabled son. Two years ago, they were both brutally murdered by a man in the church that he pastored.

As much as I am a positive, optimistic person, on the eve of the “Longest Night” (Dec. 21st, the Winter Solstice), I lament and weep. It is not well in the world. It is not well with my soul.

I think of the words in the famous Christmas hymn, “O Holy Night”:

Long lay the world in sin and error pining.

Yes, Lord, the world has long pined, and is still pining, over the effects of sin and the Fall: darkness, illness, tragedy, death, fear, suffering and loss.

I find it interesting that one of the most joyful holidays, the celebration of Christ’s coming to our world, falls during the darkest days of the year; the days with the Longest Nights. It’s interesting because Jesus Christ was probably not born on December 25th. Most Bible scholars place his birth during the Spring or early Summer.

But the Early Church Fathers intentionally chose the darkest time of the year to celebrate the coming of the Light of the world. For Light shines the brightest when things are at its darkest.

The hymn continues: Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.

To a people that walked in great darkness, Christ came. In the darkest of nights, Christ comes. In the dark lament of our soul, Christ will come.

It happened 2,000 years ago. It happens today. It will happen tomorrow. Christ appears because He so loves our souls. And His appearing changes everything.

We weep today, not because we have no hope, but because as we await our certain hope, we hurt and struggle. Though Christ has appeared, He is yet to appear in some of those hard things in life that we face.

So let your soul lament. Join with the Psalmists and cry out, “How long, O Lord?!” Mourn and weep in these long, dark nights. Pour out your heart to the One who loves you and has the power to redeem.

And wait. Wait patiently for His appearing. Light will come; it will dawn upon us. And we will then know how much He really loves us. Our souls will know our worth in His eyes. And we will be utterly amazed – again.

Why so downcast my soul? Why so disquieted within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. (Ps. 42:11)

1. Is your soul lamenting over something today? Give it some space to weep in the presence of the Gentle One who does not snuff out smoldering wicks.

2. Do you know someone who is lamenting today? How can you minister to them and pray for them? Uphold them into the loving arms of the Shepherd.

3 thoughts on “The Longest Night

  1. Thank you for your meditations. Your prayers and laments take me to a deeper place as I am preparing for our first Longest Night/Blue Christmas service. Thank you and God bless you.

  2. Praying for you, Dear Brother. So thankful for you and the way you minister to others. Your transparency in this blog I AM SURE helped other lamenting souls, giving them “permission” to weep and lament and allow our Sweet Jesus to carry them through the darkness and into the light.

    Blessings to you!

    Carolyn Pruitt
    Administrative Assistant of Community Life
    909.945.5001 x277

  3. A very timely message. So many people suffer loss, grief, and sorrow this time of year. It creates a conundrum. We rejoice in the coming of Jesus; yet await the full measure of His Coming.

    Doug, we’re praying that God will heal, in particular in the life of your son. Your prayers for ours would also be appreciated.

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