My older son was a horrible sleeper for his entire first year. He was remarkably pleasant when he was awake during the day, basically flirting with everyone we encountered as he smiled at strangers and happily amused himself with any toy or book I offered him. But something dramatic happened when it was bedtime. He would fall asleep, at first, but then he would wake up just after midnight, squalling and screaming, and the only thing that would calm him down was me.
We tried to let him learn to soothe himself, but he just wouldn’t have it. Our 3-year old twin daughters slept in the room across the hall from him, so I was on high alert to get to him before he woke them up. After sprinting to the nursery, I would feed him or change his diaper or do whatever my sleep-deprived brain thought he needed at the time. Then we would rock and rock and rock. And I would wait for morning.
As a mom living through a difficult parenting season, I would sit in my rocking chair in the wee hours of the morning and hope that things would get better, that he would eventually sleep through the night so I could, too. It was such a challenging time for us, but at least we had the advantage of experience. We had already endured the newborn phase with twins, so we were living proof of the Persian phrase: “this too shall pass.”
It's similar to the sentiment reflected in Psalm 130. Here we see a song of hope. “I am counting on the Lord;yes, I am counting on him. I have put my hope in his word. I long for the Lord more than sentries long for the dawn, yes, more than sentries long for the dawn.” (NLT)
We can almost see those soldiers standing on the high city wall, maybe holding a spear or a ram’s horn they could blow in case an enemy appeared. Perhaps a lit torch was flickering nearby, casting shadows across their exhausted faces. They scan the area assigned to them, squinting into the darkness, but every so often they cast their eyes toward the east, checking to see if any rays from the sun have begun creeping into view, signaling the end to the night shift. They long for relief and the safety that daytime will bring the city.
At the start of the Psalm the author asks “Lord, if you kept a record of our sins, who, O Lord, could ever survive?” He acknowledges the despair we all encounter from time to time, but then he answers his own question. “But you offer forgiveness, that we might learn to fear you.” He knows this from Scripture, but most likely from his experiences, too. He knows that the sun will rise again, and the Lord will make it happen as He always has. Then the psalmist ends his song with advice for his listeners, “O Israel, hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is unfailing love. His redemption overflows. He himself will redeem Israel from every kind of sin.”
Hope is powerful.