As older women, we often wake up in the night and find we can’t get back to sleep. Lying in bed can often send our brains spinning in all kinds of directions that don’t help us relax or get back to sleep. They can even be counterproductive to our mental wellbeing.
Sleepless nights tell me when fear has come to live in my heart.
Most often, however, it is simply thinking about things that might happen and what we will do if they happen. I ask God to help me have wisdom–for the time when Ron’s dementia gets to be more than I can handle; for the time when he passes away; for the time when I have less income; and on and on it goes. God has cared for us so far. He will care for me then as well. Not all of the things I fear will actually happen, but the future seems way worse at night, as many of you know. But my brain often carries me far afield to scary places, causing me to wake up more and more!
Recently, I have been going through a season of this. As I read this benediction, it reminded me of the work the entire Godhead is doing in me during times like this and it is comforting. Yes, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are working to comfort me and establish my heart. This God who loves me more than I can imagine, who provided a way to forgive me so I could have a relationship with Him, when there was nothing about me that was desirable or lovable, wants to comfort me and give me hope as He does each of His children. He wants to establish our hearts so we aren’t up and down all the time. (That greek work translated comfort is often translated encourage.)
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father,
who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace,
comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.II Thessalonians 2:16-17 ESV
When I realize I need God’s comfort and an established heart, I need to do some things to cooperate with God’s work in my life.
But there are things I need to do in order to cooperate with the work God is doing in me. Briefly, they are spending time in prayer, honestly telling Him about my worries and fears and giving them to Him so He can take them into His capable hands and carry them. Prayer is more than simply repeating a bunch of words.
It is also reading God’s Word so I am familiar with His promises and familiar with who the Bible tells me God is. This includes memorizing God’s Word as well. The article below talks more about that. We need to memorize God’s Word, not so we can tick off one more thing in a list of items to give us brownie points before God, but in order that our minds and hearts will be encouraged and established. Having God’s Word working on our thoughts helps and encourages us in the fight against the Accuser. It also gives us hope.
What kinds of things trouble you when you wake up at night? How do you deal with them? Where do you need help dealing with them?
The works resulting from comforted/encouraged and established hearts will result in good works and good words from God’s people. As Christians, we will live out what the Holy Spirit is working in us purposefully and somewhat organically so others around us will see what a Christian looks like. We will be learning that it looks like to be a comforted/established Christian–someone who can serve others, who lives out Galatians 5:22-23.
We also will find ourselves being comforted and established as we share God’s Word and live out the Gospel to the Christians and non-Christians around us, living out the fruit of the Spirit as He works it out in our lives. We will be able to speak to the fear that grabs us in the middle of the night with courage because we know God is caring for us and He is dealing with the situation. It isn’t all up to us!
- In what ways do you find it encouraging that all three members of the Trinity are involved to bless your life in the ways we talk about in this and other benedictions?
- How does it bring encouragement to you that the Trinity is involved in comforting and establishing your heart? How has He designed your Church community to do this? Are you involved enough in your Church to take advantage of this blessing? If not, what do you need to do for that to change? Increase your involvement? Change how you are involved? Find another way to be involved with Christians temporarily? Worship is one way we are to be involved for sure. But we usually need a smaller group where we can be more personally involved in serving and being accountable to each other so we aren’t allowed to simply slide in our growth or lack of it.
- What verse(s) do you need to start memorizing this week to help encourage, comfort and establish your heart? Choose one for now or make a list and start working on them one at a time. Be sure the verses you choose are meaningful to you so you aren’t simply memorizing empty words. One key to memorizing Scripture is review. It is often helpful to put the verses on cards so you can review them occasionally. See Bible Gateway for multiple options of translations. personally, I memorized a lot of verses in KJV when I was young and have found it difficult to memorize in modern translations. ESV and been a good in between for me. But not everyone feels that way. There are so many different preferences in terms of translations, I won’t even go there today. It is wise to be consistent on the translation you choose.