Occasionally I find myself awake at three o’clock in the morning—not on purpose, just because. (Maybe it’s a by-product of getting older.)
I think that 3:00 a.m. is the worst time of the day. Falling right in the middle of sleep, it’s an abyss between the day past and the day to come. It’s dark and still—and it's easy to fall in.
Lying in bed, awake yet delirious with sleep, sensibility is in short supply and irrationality takes over. The concern(s) of the previous day rush to the forefront of my thoughts and even minor worries become overwhelming anxieties. And major worries become crushing. The “voices” that can’t get a foothold in the light of day, stake a claim in the darkness. Life seems hopeless and problems insurmountable. I don’t know why this dark time happens. I just know that it does.
Maybe you have no idea what I’m talking about. …But maybe you do.
And maybe your overwhelming desolation doesn’t just come as a thief in the night, but makes a home in the light of day as well.
Bible writers are no stranger to anguish. Perhaps no book is more sorrowful than Lamentations. The writer, probably the prophet Jeremiah, is in his own dark place. Overwrought by God’s judgment and destruction of the temple, he grieves—and for the first 64 verses of Lamentations he does nothing but that. Of God he says, “He has besieged me and surrounded me with bitterness and hardship. He has made me dwell in darkness like those long dead.” (3:5-6) Indeed, Jeremiah’s spirit is crushed.
And then something amazing happens—in the midst of his darkness, he remembers the light. “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (3:21-23)
Even in the midst of desperation, he clung to the truth that God is a god of hope, of love, of faithfulness and of deliverance. His compassion never ends.
In our times of darkness it’s easy to forget the light. But whether our troubles last a night or a season, we can do as Jeremiah did. We can “call to mind” and have hope in God’s great love and faithfulness. As the rising sun often settles our minds, the light of God’s mercies—new every morning—quiets our spirits.
Based on those verses in Lamentations, the beloved hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” was written by Thomas Chisholm, a Methodist life insurance agent. This ordinary man was inspired, not by a dramatic experience, but by his daily experience of the constancy of our awesome God. His poem beautifully calls to our minds the hope we have even in our shadows.
For great is His faithfulness, no matter what time of day.