Watches of the night was a term developed in ancient cultures’ military groups. Three hour stretches beginning at 6:00 p.m., ending at 6:00 a.m. when guards were posted to look out for enemy activity so soldiers could lay down weapons and rest without fear.
When civilian life is hard, circumstances beyond our ability to bear, aren’t the last two watches of the night the hardest to endure? Before sunlight returns, hours of deepest darkness can trigger temptations to give in, give up, lose hope.
And yet, our Lord is not unaware, understands temptations flung at us when we are at our weakest. At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus endured satan’s powerful temptations by standing on the Word, promises and character of the Father. Nearing the end of His life, Jesus held firm through the watches of the night hours in Gethsemane.
Many in our country, especially in Texas and across the South are experiencing unprecedented low temperatures, loss of power/heat, frozen pipes, and miserable conditions. Family and friends have endured life-altering conditions. We’ve had minor issues with frozen pipes, but for all of us, it is the unrelenting dangerous COLD that is not going away.
Some place blame on lack of state preparation, planning and ability to cope with demands. But for the most part, we’ve never needed this level of winter readiness because there’s never been this extent of widespread, prolonged severe winter weather in the state of Texas. When temperatures in Banff, Alberta Canada and cities in Alaska are warmer than Waco and even Houston, TX, something is askew with the weather!
A few days ago, the sight of a white winter landscape was beautiful and fun. Today, grey skies, freezing rain, single digit temperatures and swollen joints are prevailing over the joys of snow. And I love snow!
Admittedly, I’ve felt down, dreary. Concerned about our son’s family dealing with a loss of water in their home and across their city. Grateful our daugther’s family was able to take in a family with out power, and our other son and wife took in family members and a friend who were without power and heat.
Frustrated, I can do nothing tangible for any of them and so . . . I do the most powerful thing I know to do, I pray. I pray for our kids, for the restoration of state and city infrastructure, power grids, water pressure and frozen pipes.
I pray for safety of those who join me in a ministry among at risk children. I ask the Lord’s protection over students we mentor and their families. I pray for all those in our city with limited resources to stay insulated, warm and fed.
Looking out on a dreary icy landscape, I pause. I confess weakness. I seek the Lord. Music. Stillness. Psalms.
Drawing near to the Lord, my soul enters a place of rest and I wait, soon sensing God’s presence and guidance.
Psalm 39:7: Now O Lord, for what do I wait? I wait for You, in the watches of the night and in all my days.
And I have hope, for you, O Lord, are our only Hope . . . .