When The Night Won’t Cease

Musing’s on Night Terrors and Psalm 88

You may consider yourself to be competent, a warrior, a sheepdog. You may be proficient in your warrior tasks and drills. You may have fought the enemy by Land, Sea or Air. You may hold numerous degrees in combatology and Hardknocks. You may pride yourself on being the “Tip of the Spear.” Yet the trouble has come to you. Your night is disrupted, your sleep ruptured by the cry of death, by the memories of teammates lost and friends killed. You may wake in sweat and smelling of fear, I don’t have to tell you about any of this. You experience it nightly, perhaps you have developed habits to cope, maybe this is your new normal. Just like preparing for combat you prepare for the night.

-Get drunk

-Get into a fight with your significant other so she wont get hurt.

-Drink max doses of Nyquil.

-Check all doors making sure they are triple locked.

-Place gun close but not too close.

-Lay in bed and prepare to be frozen in panic.

Does that describe your nights? Is this your life?

You went to your Pastor, he told you to pray more. You went to your Shrink he said to write down your experience more. You went to the Doctor she said to take these pills. You went to your friends, they said to drink more. Who is right? What do you do in the night when terrors fail to cease?

Where do wise men turn?

Where do I turn?

Where can you turn?

Consider with me Psalm 88

The subtitle calls it a Maskil of Heman, We know Heman was a wise person (1 Kings 4:31) and that a Maskil was a type of song or poem, some have suggested it was created for memory. Let’s take this idea further, this is a song written by a wise person in order to be memorized for difficult times.

Heman recognizes salvation is found in God alone, yet something is bothering him, he cries out day and night to God this shows us that God has not solved his pain and suffering.

Verse 1

Lord, God of my salvation,

I cry out before you day and night.

Have you ever felt like God wasn’t answering you? That He has abandoned you?

Verse 2

May my prayer reach your presence;

listen to my cry.

Sometimes I pray that my prayer will be heard often in desperation!

Verse 3

For I have had enough troubles,

and my life is near Sheol.

Are you done with the night terrors that continue to plague you? Do they creep into your day as well?

Verse 4

I am counted among those going down to the Pit.

I am like a man without strength,

My days are dull and listless I am tired all day but cannot sleep, I lay in bed awake knowing that soon I will be awoken by terror. I am in anguish, are you?

Verse 5

abandoned among the dead.

I am like the slain lying in the grave,

whom you no longer remember,

and who are cut off from your care.

I sometimes wonder if it would have been better for me to have died in combat. I should have been left with the dead, maybe it would have been better. I tend to ask God why, why did He do this to me?

Verse 6-7

You have put me in the lowest part of the Pit,

in the darkest places, in the depths.

Your wrath weighs heavily on me;

you have overwhelmed me with all your waves.

Selah

This, this right here is how I feel at night, do you feel that way to? Are you burdened and overwhelmed? This description is very real to me. It gives words to me feelings, I ask God why did you do this?

Selah seems to indicate a pause or a rest, a time to slow down and contemplate. I need this rest as I continue to think about my nights and even days.

Verse 8-10

You have distanced my friends from me;

you have made me repulsive to them.

I am shut in and cannot go out.

My eyes are worn out from crying.

Lord, I cry out to you all day long;

I spread out my hands to you.

Do you work wonders for the dead?

Do departed spirits rise up to praise you?

Selah

When the sleep will not come I isolate, I have no energy, I don’t want to see my friends, I quarantine myself. Maybe its me that is toxic. Misery is my only friend. I continue my crying out to God and He doesn’t reply He still holds back. What if I were to die what would be my place? Rest, Pause, that it, breath.

Verses 11-12

Will your faithful love be declared in the grave,

your faithfulness in Abaddon?

Will your wonders be known in the darkness

or your righteousness in the land of oblivion?

God’s faithful love, where is it? When I am dead where will it be? I think about the end often, what would it be like for this all to end? Honestly, I feel no hope. Yet I keep crying to God.

Verses 13-14

But I call to you for help, Lord;

in the morning my prayer meets you.

Lord, why do you reject me?

Why do you hide your face from me?

Here I am Lord, without one plea, I keep calling to you for help as long as it takes, morning by morning I will lift my arms up in prayer, crying for mercy, lift this darkness from me.

Verses 15-18

From my youth,

I have been suffering and near death.

I suffer your horrors; I am desperate.

Your wrath sweeps over me;

your terrors destroy me.

They surround me like water all day long;

they close in on me from every side.

You have distanced loved one and neighbor from me;

darkness is my only friend.

We come to the end of this Psalm, I look on my life, its been tough since the beginning suffering and death has surrounded me. I don’t know how much more I can take. I think about my experience and all I feel is pain, I long to go back to those days and be with the warriors fighting for our lives. Yet here I am alone, even my loved ones don’t understand me. All I have is this darkness. I sit here on the couch with a small lamp keeping the darkness as bay, I read God’s Word and pray. Like Heman, I have no answer I only have God, where else should I turn? Only time will tell when God will take this suffering from me, and He may never relieve me of it. As Jesus Christ God’s Son sent to suffer and die said; “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me—nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Lk 22:42)

All Bible Passages from: Christian Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2020), Ps 88

Repentance

Thomas Watson lays out repentance in a helpful way.

We use this word a lot, but what does it really mean? And more importantly how do we do it.

What it is not: 

  1. A sense of guilt (feeling bad)
  2. A resolution against sin, based on circumstances, (bargaining, if only you do this I’ll never sin again. 
  3. Leaving some sins yet keep others. An old sin may be left to pursue another. “Sin exchanged, heart unchanged” Sin left off for self interest. 

True leaving of sin results with the infusion of grace, like light ceases to be dark when there is an infusion of light. 

Repentance is a grace of God’s Spirit whereby a sinner is inwardly humbled and visibly reformed. For a further amplification, know that repentance is a spiritual medicine made up of 6 special ingredients:

  1. Sight of Sin
  2. Sorrow for Sin
  3. Confession of Sin
  4. Shame for Sin
  5. Hatred of Sin
  6. Turning from Sin

You can read the whole book here for free.

My Top Five Books on Depression

Biblical counseling resources on depression.

As many of you know I read a lot. I thought I would share some of the books that I have found helpful in thinking through depression from a biblical perspective.

Some of these were assigned reading in my biblical counseling program for my Master’s in Divinity and others are helpful resources I found afterward.

I hope they are helpful to you. Write a comment on which one you find/found most helpful. 

1. Hodges, Charles, Good Mood Bad Mood: Help and Hope for Depression and Bipolar Disorder. 

2. Lloyd-Jones, Martin, Spiritual Depression.

3. Mack, Wayne, Down but Not Out.

4. Welch, Ed, Blame It on the Brain.

5. Piper, John, When Darkness Will Not Lift.