When you’re in an unfamiliar place, one filled with strange sounds and sensations, sleep can be hard to come by. And so you lie awake, listening to the room pop and creak around you and watching shadows waltz across the walls. My family calls this uneasy state “hearing the crickets” because their song is the only thing that keeps you company through the long, sleepless night.
But this isn’t a sensation reserved only for foreign spaces. We can also hear them when we’re in our beds, surrounded by things that normally bring us comfort. It happens during those nights when we stare at the ceiling and fret about job security or a diagnosis that calls for further tests. Their chirping is the background music for our brooding about whether or not the kids are really all right or if the fight we had with our spouse will be the straw that finally breaks the longsuffering camel’s back. Despite all our labors and strivings, we cannot be certain what tomorrow will bring, and that is a hard truth to put out of our minds.
“Don’t we all like knowing, with a fair degree of certainty, where we’re headed?” Jen Pollock Michel writes in her article, “The Surprising Architecture of God’s Story.” I know I do. I relish the certainty of an accurate calendar, of life filed neatly away in coded and color-coordinated folders, of knowing where everything is and what’s coming next. Like Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith of the A-Team says, “I love it when a plan comes together” and stays that way.
But life is rarely as neat as we would like. Instead, it has a tendency to tangle and snarl. And in the long, slow hours of the night, when there’s nothing to keep us busy, no way for us to feel “in control,” it’s easy to forget Jesus’ admonition: “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt. 6:34). So we lie awake and wait for the dawn.
Surprises are part and parcel of the human condition. And while we may not like them, as believers, we can trust that the One who allows those uncertain and perplexing moments has a reason—a divine logic that will eventually make sense and leave us smacking our foreheads, amazed we didn’t see it sooner.
Yes, we want “a little advance notice on pending surprises,” as Michel says, but we must remember God doesn’t owe us that courtesy. Our lives are His to do with as He sees fit. So whatever happens in the daylight hours need not trouble our nights. Instead, we can rest easy knowing “He who keeps [us] will neither slumber nor sleep” (Ps. 121:4).
Written by Jamie A. Hughes