How to Find Hope on a Long Silent Night
“That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them.” Luke 2:8-9a (NLT)
I sit alone near the window at the end of a long December day, my weary frame wrapped in a wordless sigh and a plush red blanket. The wintry woods beyond the glass are as quiet as my children who sleep down the hall.
Moonbeams mingle with the twinkling lights of our Christmas tree, and starlight waltzes with the shadows on the floor.
I take a deep breath and seek solace in the silence. But my heart refuses to rest in the hallowed hush.
For years, when my wee ones filled the nights with wails, I dreamed of a quiet like this.
But what I didn’t know then — when my midnight hours thrummed to the rhythm of sniffling sighs and colicky cries — is that children aren’t the only ones who can fill the night with clamor.
Sometimes the quiet quakes noisy, too.
Doubts drowned out by the drone of the day can resurrect with a ruckus in the lull of night. Fear can run wild when our feet finally slow. And worry can howl reckless in the hush.
It’s in the quiet where we often come face-to-face with our questions:
Do I really believe that God is good?
Does He truly see my needs and hear my prayers?
Do I trust Him enough to obey when it doesn’t make sense?
Will His promises hold firm even if my hope falls short?
It’s in the quiet where we learn to fight for faith.
So, I shift my eyes from that twinkling tree to the Bible on my lap. And I read aloud from those treasured pages.
“That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. ‘Don’t be afraid!’ he said. ‘I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior — yes, the Messiah, the Lord — has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger” (Luke 2:8-12, NLT).
God’s Word dangles in the air like the velvet stockings hanging hopeful on my mantle. I close my eyes and try to listen to the truth of Scripture rather than the squall of my own soul.
I imagine the Hope of Heaven landing on the dust of earth … the squeals of fright and the blaze of light. The angel’s declaration and the shepherds’ consternation.
And I ask Jesus to show me something new in this familiar account of the very first Christmas.
Then all at once, I see it through a haze of grateful tears:
The message the angels proclaimed on that Bethlehem hillside long ago didn’t just change the course of one bygone silent night.
The good news of great joy changed the course of every silent night to come. Because we don’t have a God who merely pierces our darkness. We have a Savior who lingers beside us on our long silent nights (Isaiah 9:2-7).
The prophets foretold it (Isaiah 7:14). The angel repeated it. And His name confirms it (Matthew 1:23). God is with us.
And in His presence, we can find everything we need when the quiet quakes noisy.
Dear Jesus, thank You for sticking with me whether I’m full of hope or full of fear. I’m glad my doubts don’t diminish Your love and my qualms don’t offend Your faithfulness. Teach me how to rest in Your presence when my heart is unsettled. I want to trust You more. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Luke 1:78-79, “Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.” (NLT)
Matthew 1:23, “‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us).” (ESV)
Imagine Jesus walks up to you and invites you to follow Him. He doesn’t tell you what it will entail but only asks you to come. When the original disciples said yes, they had no idea what that meant. But Jesus was there to walk alongside them. You, too, can discover the beauty of following where He leads and feel Him walking with you when you join Suzanne Eller on this yearlong adventure through Luke in her Come With Me Devotional: A Yearlong Adventure in Following Jesus.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What is stretching your faith right now? How can you invite Jesus into your struggle and draw strength from His presence? Share your thoughts, here in our comments section.
Turn a silent night into a gift this week. Light a candle. Listen to worship music. Read your Bible. Write Jesus a love letter. Fill the quiet with prayer and praise.
© 2018 by Alicia Bruxvoort. All rights reserved.