A line from a hymn that we sang recently jumped out to me. “But the slow watches of the night not less to God belong and for the everlasting right the silent stars are strong.”
It made me think of those who are going through this holiday season having lost a loved one, or dealing with illness, or experiencing the dark night of the soul. For those folks this can be a challenging and even dreaded time. For them there are no Christmas spirits that can visit and change their outlook as they did for Ebenezer. Still I would offer some words of encouragement to help them on their journey.
PEACE. It only adds to your burden to beat yourself up about not being in the right mood or not having enough faith or wishing you could be different. We all want to work and be fruitful, enjoy our time, and feel like we are making a difference. But this is not the season for that. This is the night watch. It is painfully slow and the darkness can seem to be all consuming. But the hymn reminds us that even the night watch belongs to God. He’s got this so you don’t have to. The truth that will bring you this peace, even if you are in the valley of the shadow of death, is “for Thou art with me.” Decide to stop trying to hold on to God and let Him hold on to you.
PATIENCE. The night watch does not last forever. At times it feels as if it does but feelings are not facts. The Scriptures tell us “to everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.” We seldom understand the purpose for a season while we are in it. But often we are able to look back, especially after experiencing new seasons, and see that God was working all along. Corrie Ten Boom had a famous illustration with her needlework. She would show the audience the back of her cross-stitch revealing a chaotic mess of threads. But then she would turn it around to reveal a beautiful cross and crown. What gives us patience is when we trust that God is at work to form a crown even from our chaos.
PERSPECTIVE. The strong silent stars represent to me keeping the end in sight and the end is the everlasting right. We can either let our current condition cause us to forget or even to not believe that one day all things will be made right. Or we can let the hope of all things being made right place our current condition in proper perspective. St. Paul says that we still grieve but we will not grieve as those who have no hope. The promise of the Kingdom coming in its fullness and all things being brought to their perfection by Him through whom all things were made is what gives us the perspective of the stars.