My friend spent the weekend waiting and wondering. Wondering about a coming medical diagnosis and the excruciating upheaval she may be facing. Wondering whether fear and anxiety and pain are about to be her daily normal.
I hurt for her, for my stomach still knots at memories of similar weekends. As she waits through the dark unknown, I want to give her words of encouragement; words to quell rising anxiety, words to steady her uneasy heart.
And words of sure truth from Psalm 130:5-7 keep coming to mind:
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with him is plentiful redemption.
And so this is what I want her (and you) to be encouraged by: with the Lord there is steadfast, never-changing, always-there love. No dark place threatens His light, and no unseen future can quench His plentiful peace. He rescues and redeems. He gives hope.
He is hope.
Psalm 130 tells us this: As she is required to wait for her medical news, she needs to wait even more for Him. She should wait for the Lord more than the watchmen wait for the morning.
The watchmen’s dark wait
But we don’t easily understand the watchman’s wait for the morning. We need to enter his ancient Israeli world, where complex towers were built into the defense works surrounding the important cities. These walls surrounding the cities were, on average, about 10 feet thick and as much as 30 feet high. Towers, constructed along the top of these vast city walls, were situated about every 100 feet and often extended 6 feet outside the wall.
And there, in the top of each tower stood a night watchman. From dusk ’til dawn, as he stood guard for the sleeping king and the people of his city against hostile attack, each watchman would fasten his attention on the dark horizon (Is. 21:11). Ancient Israel’s night watches were broken up into three intervals, each lasting four hours, and hour after hour the walled city’s watchmen stood alert in their towers.
No street lights or night-vision technology existed. Moon and starlight were his eye’s only aides, and each snap of a twig or rustle in the distant brush riveted his attention. When possible attack from approaching armies loomed, each watchman felt a heightened sense of pressure and focused his senses even more intensely. As he climbed to his post to began his watch, he didn’t want to be the guard who missed danger’s approach.
For sunlight bursting through on the horizon would end an uneasy night watch. Tension, and elevated heart rates, and rushes of anxiety over possible unknowns, would dissipate. He waited with eager expectation, for he knew that, without fail, light was on the way. No agitated night would last beyond it’s appointed length. No matter what, light beams would appear and illumine the land before his eyes.
Sunrise could be counted on.
And so it is for you, for me, and for my friend who waits. Just as watchmen waited for the sure rise of the sun and the alleviation of night fears, so our souls wait for the surety of the Lord’s never-failing help. He is true to His word, and in relationship with Him dwells steadfast love and plentiful redemption.
Oh follower of Christ, hope in Him alone. Rivet the eyes of your heart on the triune God and His sure words of hope-filled promise to you.
Fix your eyes on Him with an intensity that outmatches the watchman’s eager desire for dawn.
For we don’t wait wondering. We wait knowing.
That’s how we wait in the dark.