Are you a morning person or a night owl? Are you more productive during the daylight hours, or after the sun goes down? A college roommate of mine liked to get up early to study, while I preferred staying up into the wee hours of the night. Sometimes I went to bed about the same time my roommate got up!
Certain jobs require working at night. Schoolteachers grade papers late into the evening. Counselors, ministers, and public safety workers respond to calls in the middle of the night when there’s been an accident or a death. Moms and dads sit up through the night rocking a sick child.
Working the Night Shift
What was it like for the Old Testament priests who served in the temple long after the noisy crowds went home, the rabbis’ voices fell silent, the singing faded into quietness, and the merchants and moneychangers stopped hawking their wares? A few temple servants worked the night shift, kept the fire going on the altar, cleaned up the ashes from the previous day’s sacrifice, and made sure things were ready for tomorrow. Someone had to serve through the night. The psalmist wrote, “Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who minister by night in the house of the Lord (Psalm 134:1).
In a spiritual sense, there are times when you and I must “minister by night” and serve God when darkness closes in. The same letter that says God has “called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” says Christians should expect to face dark nights of the soul when suffering proves unavoidable (1 Peter 2:9; 4:12-19).
Perhaps you will experience the night of loneliness. Elijah crawled into a cave and spent the night there, feeling like he was the only faithful servant of God left. Daniel spent the night in a lions’ den because he refused to pray to anyone but God. In the darkness of night, Jesus prayed with his face to the ground in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Perhaps you will go through the darkness of disappointment. Moses spent 40 years leading the Israelites to the promised land, then upon their arrival, he himself wasn’t allowed to enter it.
Will you keep serving the Lord during the dark night of doubt when your burdens seem unbearable, your problems appear unsolvable, and your critics’ voices grow loud? David loved God, but at one point he confessed, “I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. . . . I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God” (Psalm 69:2, 3).
Here are three ways to brighten things up.
1. Listen for God’s voice. Even when it’s hard to see what God is doing, we can hear what he’s saying in his Word.
2. Help others. Our job is to “minister by night,” not just curse the darkness. Despite their bruises and chains, Paul and Silas prayed, sang, and preached during a long night in prison, and before the night was over, they baptized the jailer and his family into Christ. Your own days will be brighter if you bring encouragement and light to a friend’s dark moments.
3. Remember, the darkness won’t last forever. “Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Lesson study ©2018, Christian Standard Media. Lesson based on The Lookout’s Scope and Sequence ©2018. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.