I know what it’s like to count breaths. To stagger my own as thought it would somehow give that ability to the loved one who is struggling. To pray for release and yet still hope for more. To be grateful when the next one arrives and then realize it was the last.
One of my favorite things to have happen is to wake up in the night and find myself singing praise songs. Just as precious, however, are those times when I move to wakefulness and find myself already in prayer. That’s the way I’ve greeted the past two days: praying for those I love.
In the early morning hours I changed positions and in that brief movement caught just that breath of prayer for friends who have lost, for those who are still in the process of losing…and for the families of 21 Coptic brothers in Christ whose lives I didn’t even know existed until just a few days ago. As I moved into conscious prayer, I asked for comfort and strength for those under the heavy weight of loss and those who still struggle for their next breath even now. I reminded God of what He already knows: Night watches are the hardest and those who must endure them require an extra portion of grace to do so.
Respirations grow longer and often more labored. Connections with the day and its activity-laden bustle are further from our minds and so the focus can only shift to the counting of breaths and the struggle for both parties to be there for the next one. The need for rest is real, but often ignored because we place a higher value on being present to hold the vigil, the hand, the heart…and count the breaths.
Whether or not your night watch right now is real or symbolic, physical or spiritual, please know this: you are not alone. the same God who breathed life into Adam is with you now. He who created the day also created the night…and the day that will eventually follow. He knows all about pain and loss and He can show you how to breathe through it. Yes, these times will change us.
No, they will not change Him.
All the things we are most grateful for in the day are still true in the night, so grab the deepest breath you can and lean hard into Him. Be assured that the One who set limits on the brightest day also set limits on the darkest night. It may not be tomorrow, but joy does come in the morning.
Praying for strength, comfort, peace and those in the night watches of life…as we wait for morning together.