Something my children don’t seem to lack is perseverance. At least that’s very true late at night when they have empty tummies, owies or are in need of emotional comfort. Our two youngest have decided to really practice perseverance over this last week. This has made mommy a little short on patience and a little long on feeling sorry for herself. Last night the wee one started in to crying at about midnight. My wonderful husband got up and brought him to me so I could nurse him in hopes of him going back into a blissful sleep. It was not to be. Awhile later we had put him back to bed again with the vain hope that he would just be content to go to sleep. He wasn’t. He cried. Not the ‘I’m in pain’ cry. Not the ‘I’m scared and I need you NOW’ cry, not even the ‘I’m hungry’ cry. It was the cry that said, “I really want to be with you so why don’t you just give up and get over here.” I didn’t want to go over there. I was tired. It was just past 2:00 AM. Any reasonable person would be sleeping right now if they could be. If you haven’t noticed one year olds are rarely reasonable. I employed the, maybe-if-I-ignore-him-he’ll-go-back-to-sleep plan. Neither of us went to sleep. I gave in and got up.
In the midst of the maybe-if-I-ignore-him-he’ll-go-back-to-sleep plan I contemplated prayer. There in the dark, fighting the desire in me to not get up I thought about my response to my children’s cries. There are certainly some cries that cannot be ignored for even a moment. When I hear one of those I drop everything and run. There are the whiny cries that I don’t respond to. My sister-in-law is in the midst of teaching her newly adopted son to come to her when he cries (because of some of his life experiences before he became part of their family this is a learning experience for him). So she waits for him to come to her with his troubles rather than running out to him so that he learns that it is safe to come to her. There are also times that I don’t hear my child crying because of the proximity that they are to me at the time. Whatever the circumstance these little ones seem to understand that if they persist in their crying someone will respond.
As I likened my prayers to the cries described above it made me wonder if at times I have not cried out long enough. Perhaps my perseverance in prayer has been lacking and the Lord is trying to help me learn to stick with it. Maybe He isn’t planning to answer me because I am feeling sorry for myself and the whining is hurting His ears. Maybe He’s trying to get me to come closer, to seek Him out earnestly, to bring my need to Him, even when I’m just needing to feel Him near. At those times my response is often to withdraw. As foster parents we’ve seen that time and time again, the very need that needs to be met is held far away because the fear that the need won’t be met is greater. It has become safer to self-protect.
My children are secure enough in their knowledge of us as their parents to know that we will come when they call if the need is legitimate or if they persevere until we can hear them. As earthly beings our response to the persevering cry in the middle of the night isn’t always compassionate and gentle. Fortunately our heavenly Father is not like us, His response is always at the right time, His words always quiet our spirits and bring us back to the place of peace as He wipes away the lies along with the tears.
Hebrews 11 is full of heroes of the faith who persevered even though they never saw the fulfillment of their cries. I want to be like that. To go down believing that God is faithful and will bring to pass all that He has said. I’ve never liked listening to my kids cry themselves to sleep because of that weak, plaintive sound that comes just before they fall asleep. I guess that’s why we haven’t employed that technique very often. I want to go down fighting with all that I have in me.
My encouragement to you in this new year is to go ahead and cry out! Cry loud and long. He will hear you and He will answer. You can be sure of it because His word says that He hears our cries. Go out into this year fighting the good fight of faith. Go into it with the hope and expectation of having your name added to the crew in Hebrews 11, they are all cheering you on.