As consciousness slowly made its way past my restless hiding place toward the inevitable realization of another encounter with him I struggled to regain the strength that had somehow slipped away in the darkness of the night. It always seems to happen this way, his lurking in the pre-dawn darkness with that insidious smile on his face. The smile that is filled with accusation and taunting; the face that never seems quite so foreboding in the daylight but always gathers such an ominous presence with the stillness and blackness of the night. Almost instinctively out of self-preservation my mind quickly scrambled in my awakening fog for some other place to be — anywhere, just not here — how strange it landed where it did.
It was another very dark and lonely night many long years ago. I don’t think I had slept very much at all when the phone rang with an agonizing intensity. It seemed to dare me to pick it up as it bullied its way into the silence. I didn’t want to pick it up; in fact I didn’t want to move … if it didn’t see me it couldn’t hurt me. But just at that moment a small breath of courage lifted me and I made the decision to face him once again.
Only a parent who has watched their child suffer without the ability to help can understand the feeling of complete helplessness that engulfs you. Our daughter was only 8 days old and she had been struggling in intensive care for the past 6. What had seemed to the doctor as normal levels of bilirubin (jaundice) of 4 or 5 caused by her slowly activating liver had jumped to 11 then 23 and finally to 31. As the long nights began to blend into one another all I could remember was the doctor’s bad report. There was a high probability of brain damage. In answer to my unasked question he had hastily added: and at this age there is no way of knowing, it may show up in the near future or in the years to come. In the midst of transfusions and incubators and tubes and machines my emotions were like the crashing of the ocean waves, endlessly churning and never resting. Had God not been there, well I don’t even want to think about it!
As my hand finally made its inevitable way to the telephone I was gently reminded of whose child she was. Of whose heart was as heavy as mine. But most importantly, in whose hand she was being held. His strength was all that I needed, all that was necessary, totally sufficient in itself. As the receiver touched my ear I heard the voice I had dreaded, the one that had brought one bad report after another, day after day and night after night. But this time there was something different in the way he spoke my name. It carried a smile, a note of hope and of peace … the level’s gone down, she’s turned the corner!
A few minutes later as I put my head back down on my pillow the tears washed down my cheeks. I realized that they were coming from the same place as before but they felt completely different. Gone was the wrenching of body and soul. In their place was hope and joy, enveloped in a blanket of peace. How odd I thought, in the mere passage of a few minutes the entire world had changed. What was it that had such a profound affect on the night? The darkness was still there, the silence remained but he wasn’t there. As I drifted off to sleep I wondered why. How, in spite of all my precautions and security measures, did he get in? What door or window had I left unlocked? How did he enter so quickly without even a sound? I knew the answers wouldn’t come overnight.
How strange to be in that all too familiar situation again some many years later. I knew he would be there the moment I opened my eyes. How did I know? In spite of all the precautions I was the one who let him in. I had become complacent in checking my security system and a little crack in the exterior was all he needed. I could smell the sickening odor of his presence. I knew FEAR was sitting on the foot of our bed and he wasn’t there for a chat!
As I lay there with my eyes tightly closed, trying to will myself back to sleep, that sweet still voice of the Spirit gently whispered, Psalm 40. Like a drowning man that has just been thrown a life preserver I quickly turned on the light and grabbed my bible while carefully avoiding the foot of the bed. As my fingers began their familiar path through the pages I tried to remember what this particular psalm was about.
My eyes fell on the page and I smiled to myself. There before me on page 642 were all the notes I had collected over the years pertaining to this psalm. The first thing I saw was the heading I had written in red pen: The Benefit of Confidence in God. Just as I started to read that small voice spoke again: just verses 1 to 3.
Ps 40:1-3 I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. 2. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. 3. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.
Look at the first two words in verse 1; I waited. I am reminded of Abraham and what he did when God asked him to wait:
Rom 4:20-21 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; 21. And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
Since God hasn’t changed then I suspect He wants us to take that very same attitude toward His promises that Abraham and David did. Here in Psalm 40 David tells us how he waited; patiently. The implication is waiting expectantly in order to obtain something. This is a good representation of what God expects us to do regarding His promises. That is our part and David even tells us just how we are to accomplish it. Look at verse 1(b): He inclined unto me and heard my cry. The Lord took specific action in order to hear David. But God can’t hear us if we don’t cry out. Isn’t it funny how we don’t want to cry out about something that He already knows? We always seem to forget that getting us to acknowledge our hurt is always His first step and getting us to use our lips gives it life, makes it real. If we voice it He will hear it. Oh, I know He knows our every thought but there is something special about crying out to God. Just ask blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52).
When we find ourselves in the darkness of the night we need to cry out to God and wait with an expectant heart for His answer. He does hear us and He does respond; look at verse 2. He responds by bringing us up out of the pit and the miry clay and sets us firmly on His Rock — Jesus. Think about that for a moment. In the darkness with the enemy sitting at the foot of your bed, God will hear your cry and lift you up. If you think about it fear comes from the very pit itself but thank God it can’t stand on the Rock. But God doesn’t stop there, He always puts the icing on the cake.
In verse 3 David tells us about one of the blessings we get on our way out of the pit; a new song in my mouth. In the face of fear and doubt God will put a new song inside you to burst forth. Burst forth? Yes, burst forth! How will it be praise if it never crosses your lips? What David is saying is that God will hear you, lift you out of your circumstances, set you on The Rock and give you a new testimony. If you finish reading verse 3 you can see that it’s clear this new song (testimony) is to be heard by many who, as a result, will come to trust the Lord. Remember, God not only saves us “from” something but He also saves us “for” something. God considers our testimonies of what He has done in the darkest moments of our lives to be a new song worth singing. David is speaking from experience here if you recall. Take time and read 2 Sam 6:5; 14-25 and observe how he let the new song come forth in his life.
Only the Christian can sing out a new song in the midst of his trials because only the Christian has a Lord and Savior who reaches down and puts that song in his mouth. Oh how quickly the atmosphere can change when we begin to cry out to God.
Ps 34:17,19 The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. 19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.
Note the last word in verse 19 … “ALL” – Greek, Hebrew or English … All mean All!
As my eyes blinked at the first rays of light shining forth from the lamp beside the bed I realized that just as quickly the foot of the bed had been vacated, my adversary had vanished. As the light of the lamp chased away the darkness the light of the Word (Jesus) chased away fear. In both cases they are mutually exclusive and cannot inhabit the same place at the same time. And just as He had done for David He did for me, He put a new song in my mouth. In praising Him for His faithfulness He brought forth His peace and His Word was like a sweet sedative to my body. The more I rejoiced in the victory that lay ahead the sweeter became the peace in that room.
As with all challenges in life, the answer is always in the Word of God. It is faithful and true 100% of the time. Look at just a couple of instances in which the Lord has something to say about dealing with the one on the foot of the bed:
Deut 31:6 Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee
Isa 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
Isa 26:3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
So what’s the answer? What happens when you wake up in the darkness and there he is again? Let me suggest that rather than doing battle in the darkness every time we might take Jesus’ words to heart and prepare ahead of time:
Matt 6:34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
We need to spend time focusing on what the Lord has in store for us today and quit wasting time on those things we can’t control, that aren’t here yet and more often than not never show up. Only then will we be certain that all our security measures are in place. If we become focused on the “what ifs” of tomorrow he will slip right in and be there waiting for us at the foot of the bed. As for me, I would just as soon keep him out of the house so I don’t have to lose any more sleep.
God’s promises are bankable. If He has given you His Word concerning something in your life you can stand on it. Don’t let fear come in and try and argue you out of it. Just remember the words of Jesus in the face of the devil himself … it is written! There’s no argument after that.
Just as He blessed us with the life of our daughter so He has blessed us a thousand different times on a thousand different occasions. And as for the bad report of brain damage issued forth by the enemy … she graduated cum laude from UCLA. So much for his lies in the darkness!
The only thing at the foot of your bed should bark and wag its tail!