‘Thou holdest mine eyes waking.’—Ps. Ixxvii. 4.
IF we could always say, night after night, ‘I will both lay me down in peace and sleep,” receiving in full measure the Lord’s quiet gift to His beloved, we should not learn the disguised sweetness of this special word for the wakeful ones. When the wearisome nights come, it is hushing to know that they are appointed. But this is something nearer and closer-bringing, something individual and personal; not only an appointment, but an act of our Father: ‘Thou holdest mine eyes waking.”
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It is not that He is merely not giving us sleep; it is not a denial, but a different dealing. Every moment that the tired eyes are sleepless, it is because our Father is holding them waking. It seems so natural to say, ‘How I wish I could go to sleep!’ Yet even that restless wish may be soothed by the happy confidence in our Father’s hand, which will not relax its ‘hold’ upon the weary eyelids until the right moment has come to let them fall in slumber.
Ah! but we say, ‘It is not only wish, I really want sleep.’ Well; wanting it is one thing, and needing it is another. For He is pledged to supply ‘all our need, not all our notions.’ And if He holds our eyes waking, we may rest assured that, so long as He does so, it is not sleep but wakefulness that is our true need.
Now, if we first simply submit ourselves to the appointed wakefulness, instead of getting fidgeted because we cannot go to sleep, the resting in His will, even in this little thing, will bring a certain blessing. And the perfect learning of this little page in the great lesson-book of our Father’s will, will make others easier and clearer.
Then, let us remember that He does nothing without a purpose, and that no dealing is meant to be resultless. So it is well to pray that we may make the most of the wakeful hours, that they may be no more wasted ones than if we were up and dressed.
1 Ps. xxiii. 14.
They are His hours, for ‘the night also is Thine.’1 It will cost no more mental effort (nor so much) to ask Him to let them be holy hours, filled with His calming presence, than to let the mind run upon the thousand ‘other things’ which seem to find even busier entrance during the night.
‘With thoughts of Christ and things divine
Fill up this foolish heart of mine.’
It is an opportunity for proving the real power of the Holy Spirit to be greater than that of the Tempter. And He will without fail exert it, when sought for Christ’s sake. He will teach us to commune with our own heart upon our bed, or perhaps simply to ‘be still,” which is, after all, the hardest and yet the sweetest lesson. He will bring to our remembrance many a word that Jesus has said, and even ‘the night shall be light about” us in the serene radiance of such rememberings. He will so apply the word of God that the promise shall be fulfilled: ‘When thou awakest, it shall talk with thee.’* He will tune the silent hours, and give songs in the night, which shall blend in the Father’s ear with the unheard melodies of angels.
Can we say, ‘With my soul have I desired Thee in the night ‘?5 and, ‘By night on my bed I sought Him whom my soul loveth ‘ ?6 Then he will fulfil that desire; the very wakefulness should be recognized as His direct dealing, and we may say,
1 Ps. Ixxiv. 16, 2 ps. iv. 4. 3 Ps. cxxxix. 11.
Prov. vi. 22. 6 Isa. xxvi. 9. ^ Cant. iii. x, 4.
‘Thou hast visited me in the night.’1 It is not an angel that comes to you as to Elijah, and arouses you from slumber, but the Lord of angels. He watches while you sleep, and when you are awake you are still with Him who died for you, that whether you wake or sleep, both literally and figuratively, you should live together with Him.