When the Night Closes In

If you are sick, you’re sicker at night.  This well-known and much-experienced truth is emblematic of the fact that everything is worse at night.  If you are worried, you dread the night.  Stress can become nearly unbearable at night.  People are in better moods when nights are shorter, even if they nap in the day.  There is something about the night that increases anxiety and fear.  The physical experience of nighttime is seen metaphorically in the “dark night of the soul.”  We describe glad events as bright and shining and not in terms of the cool and dim night.

Night is dark.  It is not presence.  Dark is absence.  God did not say, “Let there be dark.”  It is nothing and nothingness.  As such, dark epitomizes loss.  As night falls we feel despair creeping into our souls.  Something is leaving.  The void looms.  There are no answers, and we wish for the day.  Anxiety magnifies fearsome objects, and the problems of prior hours take massive shape in the night.  Alone in the dark, I remind myself that the sun will rise again, but distress is not lessened by objectivity.  It sounded good when I told someone else.

We don’t know what’s out there in the dark.  The night increases uncertainty.  I suppose we all want clearer vision and less confusion in our lives.  Even hold-on-loosely types need some stability.  A mainstay of the believer’s prayer life will be God’s direction and clear sight.  For many, the concept of having a vision for the future is all-encompassing.  What we ask of God is also asked of us by others.  Where do we want to be in five years?  Uncertainty can morph into despair as one peers into blackness, real or ethereal, and has no clue what is before.

When night closes in around us, we feel self-conscious and singular.  We are separated from others and unto ourselves.  As such, we are more apt to be sad and questioning.  Rhetorical and damaging mental wonderings increase at such times, so we should be careful of making decisions in the actual or figurative dark.  Everyone will have lonely and low spots in life with resulting confusion.  When you are in a blind night, it may be helpful to recall the clear light of day in which you made prior decisions and await a future time of reconsideration.

As perspective informs our views of the night, there are other positions.  It can be that we find solace in the quiet dark.  The time of rest may, indeed, be restful and rejuvenating.  The evening (early or late) can be a time of personal reflection and thought formation.  Occasionally, we look forward to the time of fewer calamities and greater calm.  Some individuals will find that times of lessen activity increase their own productivity.  As focus is central to success in any endeavor, the harsh hubbub of the day may drive us to distraction and prevent progress.

I have been on both ends and all along the spectrum of dread and desire relating to time of day.  The consternation induced or influenced by the dark gives way in the morning, and I remind myself of this general truth in times of despair.  I use the same approach in times of intangible though felt darkness.  In my experience, the night is a good time to commune with God.  It can be that He seems more near in solitude, and quietness (confident or not) aids conversation.  Ultimately, our fears and uncertainty are met in our Maker though His actions employ means.

As in the natural world, darkness serves a purpose in our lives.  God can use our solitary hours to form our character and conform us to Christ.  It is important that we not waste difficulties.  Trying times are meant to purify and reposition us for days to come.  At such moments, we often do not consult others as we know intuitively and through experience they will not be much help.  I encourage you to use the darkness to find God.  When you are alone by whatever definition, you will find company and comfort as you reach out in the darkness and find a Friend.

Sterl

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