You may or may not know this about me: I am plagued with nightmares. Nightmares full of familiar faces doing unspeakable things. Nightmares that make me scream and thrash in my sleep, wake up sobbing, and fear closing my eyes. Nightmares that use the energy I should be storing during the night. Nightmares that lead me to beg for the dawn to arrive
Sometimes I wake up from my nightmare and ask Loren to pray with me. Sometimes I wake up from my nightmare and sit by the window. Sometimes I wake up from my nightmare and read a Psalm.
If you've ever had a nightmare, you understand the deep longing for the morning. You understand the ache to stay awake until it is time for night-break. You understand the fear that threatens to haunt you, as you pray to Jesus to carry you through the night. You understand that no matter how badly you want to, you cannot skip the night. You cannot jump over it to the morning. You must endure the dark night in order to see the sunrise. You cannot rush through.
Oh the joy that the sunrise brings! Oh the relief of the morning, the sun peeking though the window, touching the surfaces of life. The release of dark is unexplainable. The release of the dark, the entering into the light, it brings joy.
For years I have skipped through the dark of life. For years I have jumped over processing hurts and pains, knowing I needed to be joyful. I attempted to skip the nightmares of life, rushing to "the joy in the morning" because that was "where I needed to be." But I was confusing what Jesus calls joy with forced happiness. I was confusing humility with pride: I thought that in order to be the Christian Jesus asks me to be, I must ignore my pains and hurts -- that I don't even matter enough to process through things. What I am learning now, in the midst of trial and hurt, is that I get to choose joy WHILE PROCESSING MY PAIN. It doesn't make sense, but it is real and it is happening. Instead of rushing through the night, I am wading through and keeping my eyes on the hope of the morning, but also dealing with the struggle of the dark. I know that ultimate joy will come in the morning, and knowing that brings me joy. Having hope for the light brings joy. Even in the dark. Even in the trial.
So. As you go through the trials and troubles of this world (because if you are genuine and honest, they happen to everyone), I invite you to journey through the night. Don't sit through the nightmare clenching your teeth, sobbing, and controlled by fear (I know how easy this is). Don't let rage control you because the nightmares won't leave -- do not hurt others in your pain and fear. But venture through the night with a prayerful heart - ask Jesus to comfort you and protect you. Ask someone close to you to pray with you, read a few Psalms and let Jesus rescue you. Keep your eyes forward, towards the morning, because we all know that joy comes in the morning. We all know that light brings comfort. We all know that the HOPE of the light brings joy itself, even amidst the pain.
Hope is so, so good.
To anyone facing defeat, feeling bogged down, or letting fear consume you: Your morning is coming, cling to the promise that Jesus will not leave you. Do not fear. Turn your face forward, rather than inward, and ask Him to walk you through the night. He will carry you through, just as He carries me.
Your sunrise is coming.
"He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 5 For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. 6 Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. 7 We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us." 2 Corinthians 1:4-7