Podcast Episode 7 - Tears at Night

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Welcome to Jen’s New Song

My name is Jennifer Holmes and this is a podcast for those struggling with their mental health.  Whether that means you have bipolar like I do, or you’re struggling with depression, or you’re just going through a difficult season and need some help remembering who God is, this podcast is for you.  

Right now we are working our way through a series on the Psalms and looking at how the psalmists weren’t afraid to tell God exactly how they felt, but at the end of the psalm, they reminded themselves of what they knew to be true about God.  Even if they didn’t feel that way at that moment, they still reminded themselves of the truth.  That’s exactly what I need to do in my life today, and maybe you do too.

My goals for this podcast are for you to feel as though you’re not alone, for us to be able to talk about the hard things, and to be able to honestly cry out to God with our difficult emotions.  But I don’t want us to stay there.  We don’t have to live in defeat.  We can begin to renew our minds through the word of God.

Join me for today’s look at Psalm 6

I’ve told you before on this podcast that I hate the night - that I used to be so scared at night.  But I don’t know if I’ve ever told you why.

When I was a teenager, I would have these nightmares.  I’ll save you from the long description but suffice it to say, people I knew and loved would suddenly turn into demons.  I would scream out and my dad would come running.  He would sit with me and pray with me until I calmed down and could fall back asleep.  This happened often for about a year.  The surprising part might be that I was a very grown up and independent 16 year old when this year of nightmares started.  In fact, two years after that, I moved around the world without my parents to help build an orphanage.  Another year later I got married at 20.  I told you I was mature and grown up!

But the nightmares didn’t stop.  I would have to wake up my husband many times in the first five years of our marriage.  I finally learned to separate myself from my dreams.  I now watch them - I can see myself floating above them - and when something starts to get scary, I wake myself up.  Sounds weird and woo woo I know, but at least my husband can mostly sleep through the night.

Anyway, all that to say, that’s where my great fear of the night started.  But somewhere in the middle of all that, I also started struggling with depression.  It started getting really bad right after I had my son.  I would sit on the floor, rocking a child who wouldn’t nurse properly in the middle of the night and just cry and cry.  I would sob quietly so I didn’t wake anyone up, but I shed a lot of middle of the night tears for about four months.

And that was not the end of my nighttime tears.  If you’ve struggled with depression before, you know the nighttimes can be the worst.  Even if you don’t struggle with depression, but you’re going through a trial, I’m sure you’ve cried in your bed a time or two.

The psalms talk about crying in your bed at night - of course they do! - because its a malady common to all of us at some point in our lives.  This is what Psalm 6 says:

Have mercy upon me, O Lord; for I am weak: O Lord, heal me; for my bones are vexed.

My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O Lord, how long?

Return, O Lord, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies' sake.

For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?

I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears.

Mine eye is consumed because of grief; it waxeth old because of all mine enemies.

Can you imagine crying so many tears that your bed becomes a swimming pool?  Sometimes it feels like that’s happening!  Or I soak my pillow at least.

Something about the night feels like despair.  It can feel oppressive, like the dark reminds us there is no hope.  When we’re laying in bed, there is nothing we can do about the situations, and there is nothing to distract us from the emotions.

And it feels like we’re alone against the world and there is no one to hear our tears.

But we know by now that we don’t have to live in what we feel.  Instead we get to remind ourselves of what we know to be true.  The psalmist continues

Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; for the Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping.

The Lord hath heard my supplication; the Lord will receive my prayer.

He reminds himself that God is hearing him - even in the dark.

There is one awesome thing about crying alone in the dark - I know I know, that’s a crazy sentence, but just stay with me here.

The thing about crying alone in the dark is it forces us to confront what we are feeling.  We look at the situation, at our feelings, at our helplessness and it’s in the dark that we finally realize something very important.  That we are at the end of ourselves.

When we stop running, stop being distracted, stop shoving down our feelings and cry in the dark it gets us closer to the God who hears us.  The God who rescues us.  If we never cried in the dark, we could never appreciate the light the same way.

It’s a beautiful thing to see God lift the darkness in ways that only he can.  And even though we know that he’s going to rescue us, we don’t know when.  What if the darkness doesn’t lift until heaven?  What if we’re called to live in a situation or with a feeling the rest of our lives?

We can still sit in the dark with hope.  Because even though we feel alone, we know that God hears us.  That’s he’s always sitting right beside us.  Even in the dark.  Even when we’re crying.

So go ahead and cry if you need to.  But cry with hope.  Cry knowing there is a God who hears us.  That our God is working all things for our good, even when it doesn’t look like it.  And that our God is a God who never leaves us alone.

Thank you for joining me today.  I wanted to let you know that I made something new for you!  I have a free mini course available called Elijah and his God.  I’ve learned a lot about God and mental illness by studying Elijah and would love to share that with you!  Head to jensnewsong.com/join to get the free course delivered right to your inbox.  If you would like more daily encouragement, follow me on Instagram or Facebook @jensnewsong.  If you hit the subscribe button on your listening app, you won’t miss an episode of this podcast.  While you’re there, would you consider rating and reviewing?  It really helps other people find the podcast since iTunes loves that sort of thing.  

I wrote this prayer, maybe you would like to adopt it as your own?

Dear God,

Thank you that you are even in the dark.  That you are not afraid of our tears and you feel each one of them with us.  That you comfort us and wrap your arms around us in the night.  Remind us with each tear and every nighttime that you are working and because of that, there is always, always hope.