Songs in the Night

Heartaches hurt more at night. Everyone from eight years old to eighty years old knows this. Fears are more terrifying, dread more suffocating when darkness falls. There is an isolation that comes in the night as one by one our friends and family drift to sleep, the phone goes silent, the house grows still and we are left alone with our thoughts. We can feel abandoned. Disarmed. Vulnerable. Night can also bring irrationality. Fatigue wraps its fingers around our minds, slipping past our mental barriers and leading us easily into captivity. We drift into thoughts we wouldn’t allow ourselves to think by day and fall prey to terrors that loom before us more vivid by moonlight. In seasons of sorrow, the setting of the sun can become a signal of despair.

My Night After Night

I remember many stretches like this during my time caring for Colette. I remember lying awake in the tiny hospital room, staring up at the tiles on the ceiling listening to the whirring of Colette’s tube feed – I can hear it even now – whirring, whirring, stop; whirring, whirring, stop. Some of you know the rhythm. The room would glow with the unnatural screen light of the IV pump. Night after night the thoughts would arise – like phantoms – always the same. Always the same dreadful whispers. The same dreadful fears – slipping in, drawing near. And yet, they did not always take me captive. They did not always victoriously seize the battle ground of my mind. In fact, as I think back, I recall nights when they were scattered, conquered by the most beautiful “songs in the night.”

Songs in the Night

The book of Job makes a passing mention of God being One Who “gives songs in the night.” I never noticed that phrase until I became a recipient of His nocturnal melodies. Now, I can’t help but marvel at a God Who so tenderly visits His children when all the world is sleeping to sing them words of comfort. Of course He would. Of course He would draw near in the darkness. It is just like Him.

As I think back to the various night watches I’ve endured, I remember those songs. I remember passages from Isaiah coming to mind as I lay in the darkness, promises of “a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert” (Is. 43:19) and of “being upheld with [His] righteous right hand” (Is 41:10). I remember the words to “Be Still My Soul”… of the assurance that God is “on my side” and “faithful would remain.” Like radiant lights breaking in at midnight, those songs – those nights – have become treasures. The pain has long since receded, and all that remains now is the remembrance of His presence and His Words.

Learning the Language

God is still the God Who “gives songs in the night.” Maybe you have heard them. Maybe at this moment you can think back to times when He has stood by you in your own night watches, comforting you with Scripture, songs and hymns. But perhaps some of you have not had this experience, or at least, have not had it very often.

The truth is, that if you are a child of God, God is always near you in your night watches. He is the God “Who never sleeps” (Ps. 121:4) and Who is “near the broken hearted” (Ps. 34:18). The trouble is not that He is not there, nor is it that He is not singing. The trouble may be that you have not learned the language by which He speaks.

God speaks through His Word the Bible. His language is the holy language of His Holy Word. His Spirit, if you are a believer, lives inside of you stirring up the biblical truths in your heart, matching comfort to sorrow and hope to despair. He is ready and able to do this as often as you need, but you must pursue the learning of His language. You must fill your heart and your mind with His Word. Songs in the night must be learned in the day.

Set a Goal for Yourself

Oh, I know it is easy when life is difficult to live by necessity and passivity – to do only what is necessary and to let your mind escape into a world of passivity as soon as possible. It is easy to fill your empty time with empty scrolling, to let yourself go limp as soon as the demands on you are over. It is easy to retreat to comfort shows or mind-numbing games on your phone. And yet, none of these things have the power to crush the phantoms that arise in the darkness. None of these things will sing you songs in the night.

My dear friends, if I could urge you to do one thing to breathe hope into your night watches, I would plead with you to earnestly and intentionally read the Word of God and begin a plan to memorize it. Set a goal – maybe just for this month: memorize one verse each week. At the end of this post I will include some of my favorite passages. Start with one. Write it down on a notecard. Place it on your mirror, by your kitchen sink wherever you know you will see it throughout the day. Say it to yourself – out loud – every time you see it. Write it in your phone. Set a goal of reading it through each time you go to open your social media apps. If you have time to scroll you have time to invest in your soul.

Feed Your Soul

If you are musically motivated and want an extra challenge, why not memorize the lyrics to a comforting hymn? Take a stanza a week. Read it through or sing it before bed each night. Yes, these things take work. You are learning another language. But oh, I promise you just as Job and David and Paul would promise you, it is worth it. It is worth the effort to fill your mind and heart with the words that God will sing to you in the night. It is worth the sacrifice of a little social media time, a little binge-watching time to feed your soul so it can withstand the terrors that come in the night. There is no escaping the darkness of life, and yet there is hope for we can bring light with us into the darkness.

Friends, I encourage you to take this challenge. Set a goal and learn the language that God speaks. Learn His Word and let it sing to you in the nights to come.

Verses of Comfort:

Psalms 17:7-8

Psalm 18:28

Psalm 27:13-14

Psalm 121:1-2

Isaiah 26:3-4

Isaiah 41:10;13

Isaiah 43:1-2

Isaiah 43:18-19

Zephaniah 3:17

John 14:27

John 16:33

Romans 15:13

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Philippians 1:6

James 5:8

1 Peter 4:19


Hymns of Comfort:

“Day by Day” by Carolina Sandell

“Be Still My Soul” by Katharina van Schlegel

“He Leadeth Me” by Joseph Henry Gilmore

“How Firm a Foundation” by John Rippon

For Prayer Support

If you are seeking support through prayer, please visit our Prayers for You page. We invite you to allow us to pray for you… for your heartache, for your family, for your future or whatever is pressing down on your soul today.