Oh, the night wakings. Any mother of young children can sympathize with the perpetual exhaustion that follows many sleepless nights. When our little girl was an infant people told me eventually she would sleep through the night…We’re still waiting for that. She’s four.
God seems to use these long nights to speak to me. He uses lessons that a mother can understand…much the way I picture him doing for the disciples when Christ walked with them, teaching in parables.
We went through a season during our daughter’s third year when these wakings were so disruptive that we became desperate to help our child sleep. That season taught me a great deal about being still.
Often in the deepest part of the night, in the stillness and quiet, God reveals his character. And in appropriate fashion, he uses my oft restless daughter to do it.
One night she woke up crying out in pain. She was curled up in her bed with one leg stretched out rigged. In her disoriented state she asked me to put my hand on her leg and pray. This sensitive spirited child has learned that prayer brings comfort – and the source of all comfort is Jesus.
As I prayed over her, gently massaging her little leg, it became evident she was experiencing growing pains. I began to pray that the Lord would remove her pain so she could sleep.
As a mother I wanted to take away the pain so she wouldn’t have to suffer (and frankly, so we could all get back to sleep). Yet that Still Small Voice echoed in my heart:The pain is good. Let the pain come.
She asked me if her leg would be “normal again.” In this teachable moment I explained to her that the pains are normal – good even – because it means that she isgrowing tall and strong. She took comfort in this explanation and her crying ceased.
“My cries are all dried up now,”she showed me by touching her tear soaked cheeks. The knowledge that the pain was temporary and there was a purpose for it seemed to bring her fears under submission.
You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book…I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? (Psalm 56:8-11)
This month we celebrated her fourth birthday. Memories of the day she was born are fresh in my mind. They say that mothers forget the pain of child birth because of the change in hormones, the love bond between mother and child rush through the body as if to wash away the pain receptors. Still, the memories of those hours of labor won’t be lost on any mother!
In birthing classes they teach that the pain of childbirth is helpful as it signals each advancement in the labor process and forces the mother to breath and deliver oxygen to the fetus. About ten hours into labor I wanted nothing more than to end the pain. I was losing endurance and believed I would not be able to continue without relief. In my labor experience, it turned out that feeling the pain was absolutely necessary for me in order to advance in delivering our baby girl.
The pain that I had desperately wished away was needed in order to accomplish a very good thing.
I can safely say that I am grateful for the challenges of child rearing which have taught me to rely on the Lord in more profound ways than I can adequately describe. It is through the trials and adversity that God has stretched me and refined me so gradually I begin to look a little more like Him. This has an eternal value I would never wish away. And for the days clouded with exhaustion, I find my rest in Him.
Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me. –Psalm 54:4
During the terrible twos (and threes) stage of motherhood, I felt truly desperate for help and a good night’s sleep. Then I found this amazing book and it couldn’t have come at a better time! It’s called Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breath by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson