“Let me remember my song in the night; let me meditate in my heart.” – Psalm 77:6
“Tuesday 23rd October 2017
I am sitting awake in bed at 04:11 having been awake for an hour. And even though (being October) it’s still a good few hours until the sun rises, there is this bird singing. Only one, but it is being beautifully persistent. The sound of it is somehow comforting and seems to speak of hope. For, though it is on its own and there is not the slightest sign of dawn, yet it’s song holds a sense of promise. There will be a time when other birds will join in singing, and there will be a whole chorus of them before the sun rises and a new day begins.”
This is a diary excerpt from a very difficult year, when, after seeming to recover, my health was very rapidly declining again. I only slept a couple of hours a night (hence the time of the entry) and was not far off being housebound again. I believed in a good God, but could not see any of his goodness to me. I was becoming more isolated, struggling with depression, and hurt by Christians. And I was having to accept the likelihood that – to some degree – this illness was permanent, and I would never fully recover. It was hard to imagine any “dawn”. But through scripture, and this crazy, persistent bird with a messed up body-clock, God wanted to teach me about the Song in the Night.
Firstly, the song in the night is a song of faith. Faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see. Well, the very nature of night is that we cannot see. But to sing in the night with certainty about that which we do not see, this is faith. When I could see no goodness, to sing of a good God. When I was not being healed, to trust my Healer. When everything was so out of control I did not know if I’d be able to eat the next meal, to have faith in the God who is sovereign.
In the passages where it speaks of the song in the night, it also speaks of remembering. (Psalm 77)
“I will remember…” v11
“You are the God who…” v14
Remember… Remember his faithfulness in the past. Remember the stars he has shown you in dark nights. Name those that you have seen, retrace the constellations of grace that you know to be there, even if you cannot see them now. Remember when he answered prayer. Remember when he saved you. And if you can remember nothing else, remember Jesus crucified for you. There is no greater love, no greater promise, no greater hope than this.
“He who did not spare his own son, but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things.” (Romans 8:32)
This is a song of thankfulness to the “God who Is”.
“The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away, blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21)
“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’ ” (Lamentations 3:21-24)
One of the most beautiful things about the Song in the Night, is that it is a heart’s cry. It does not need words or music (though often it overflows to this) but it is the raw cry from the depths of our pain to the depths of God. I learnt it in a time when I could hardly pray any more, I had no more words, I could only cry out to Him.
“Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me. By day the LORD commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.” (Psalm 42:7-8)
“His song is with me”. God sings over us (Zeph 3:17), and we have to learn to listen, learn to hear his song of delight. The song in the night is only a harmony to this song he continually sings, and if we can learn to hear his song, we also learn to sing. This is a song of such incredible beauty because it is eternal. All other songs will fade, but this song – this harmony of Creator rejoicing over his people, and his people rejoicing in who he is – this is a song that can be sung through life, through death, and into eternity. It is a song that is shared with all believers, although most often sung alone. It is the song of those darkest places where no person can reach, those fiercest battles no one can see, the deepest pain and loneliness that others cannot enter into. But who knows who hears, who sees, and who finds hope from our song in the night? What better witness is there – either to other people or to the heavenly realms – than to find God to be enough to sing in the night. To be able to say “God is enough for me to worship”.
” ‘I have a Christ that will do to die by; I have a religion that will make me sing in the night’. Let me hear how you can sing, ‘Victory, victory, victory!’ through Him that loved you. I tell you, we may preach fifty thousand sermons to prove the gospel, but will not prove it half so well as you will through singing in the night”. – C. Spurgeon
Yet the thing that most defines the song in the night, is that it is a song of hope and longing. We can only sing because we know there will be a day with no more tears, no more pain, no more suffering, no more fear, no more broken lives, broken families, or broken hearts. There will be a day when all this mess will be transformed to glory, and everything that has been lost will be redeemed. There will be a day when sin is no more, and we will finally meet, face to face, the One our souls long for. That day when we see Jesus, and all that is ugly is stripped away forever. This is worth singing for.
“Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.” (Hosea 6:3)
There will be a day when our song in the night is transformed into a chorus of voices, a multitude of those who are His, singing for the Hope of eternity with Christ, welcoming the dawn we have longed for.
“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.” (Psalm 130:5-6)
(Diary entry continued)…
“Father, when I am going through a time of darkness and night may I be like that bird – persistent in praising you. Even when it feels like I am alone, there is no one to join, or even see/hear, help me continue. May I live in hope, and make my life speak of hope. Make my whole life praise and worship to you. Like that bird’s song make it persistently beautiful. And, LORD, bring the time when there is a whole multitude praising you wholeheartedly regardless. A whole throng who will sing in the night, abandoned to your praise. A throng who will sing until the dawn and keep going even then. A people who wait on you, whose hope is fixed in you. Fill us with your promise, and a sense of promise as we look to you. And Lord, bring the dawn! I pray both for a revival, an outpouring of the Spirit of God, the power of your presence; and also for your final return when Jesus comes to judge the world, and we will reign with him and spend eternity in your presence! Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!
…But until then, make us, your people, persistent in praise and in prayer, filled with your promise.”
“YHWH, we have awaited you — for your name and your memorial with longing of soul. With my soul I have longed for you in the night, indeed, in my inmost spirit I look for your dawning.” (Isaiah 26:8-9)