There were quiet nights too, but the nights that stick out in my memory are the crazy ones. The labor and delivery ward overflowed, none of the babies willing to enter the world without a fuss. We ran from one emergency to another, sustained by occasional bites of a granola bar stashed in a white coat pocket. Never seeing the inside of the on call room. Only going to the bathroom when it couldn’t be delayed any longer. When we began the last of the cesarean sections at 7am, we were desperate for the day shift to arrive.
I think it’s that kind of desperation that the psalmist had in mind when he penned these words:
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than those who watch for the morning;
indeed, more than those who watch for the morning.
In those moments when I’ve felt desperate, I haven’t always realized what I was desperate for.
Each day now I slow several times to worship. I step back from what I’m doing, let myself relax into strong, safe hands, give thanks that they (not I) hold the universe. And I realize. This is what I’m longing for. His presence in my aloneness. His strength in my weakness. It’s like turning off the kitchen fan: it’s only once it’s done that you realize how noisy it was. Or like taking off a heavy backpack: ahhhh. . . that feels better. As I become small in His presence, strong hands lifting from me the burden made for His shoulders, I realize how much weight I’ve picked up, me all unaware.
In my desperation, my longing has often spoken both truly and falsely. I was longing for rest, yes, but for more than I knew; not for a rest but for rest, the kind that comes only in the arms of God.
It’s into that longing that the psalmist speaks again, reminding us to place our hope not in the gracious gifts of a loving Father who knows our need for respite, but in the One who gathers us close and rests us in His arms.
O Israel, [He speaks to us too, precious children of God!],
hope in the LORD!
For with the LORD there is steadfast love
And with him is great power to redeem.