I’m a dad of three children. Let me be more specific. I’m a dad of three children ages 4 and under. The scene in my home is one of beautiful chaos. As you know, parenting brings its own unique challenges. One challenge that every parent can relate with is the lack of sleep. “I just want a full 8 hours of sleep!” Can anyone relate to that? That seems to be a rarity for Courtney and I during this phase of life. This has gotten worse the past few weeks. Our youngest, Aaron (1 yr.), isn’t just refusing to sleep through the night; he’s refusing to sleep for an hour straight some nights.
This is extremely rough. It’s hard on Courtney and myself. We’re frustrated continuously. We’re exhausted regularly. We just want our sleep! Why won’t you sleep? I don’t know why I’m asking that, Aaron can’t read this. Maybe I just need to vent a little. Maybe it’s the exhaustion speaking. Hopefully you can relate. Don’t judge me too hard, it’s been a rough few weeks.
Last night was another night of constant waking and rocking and putting the pacifier back into his mouth, praying to God that he would last a few hours so we could sleep. But last night was different. Last night I saw the beauty of my crying son. Yes, there’s beauty amid the chaos and sleepless nights, but not for reasons you may be thinking.
You might be thinking that the crying of my son displays life. I should grateful that he’s crying. I absolutely am, and that thought isn’t lost on me. However, that’s not what made last night so beautiful. What made last night so beautiful was that it was through the crying of my son that the Lord reminded me yet again of His providence and my need for Jesus.
Let’s talk about the providence part first. Recently I have felt that life was getting busier and busier and even though I serve the Lord in full-time vocational ministry, I felt as if I was pushing aside my time in His Word. I could justify it as “I study the Bible every week, I don’t need a designated time for devotion.” Yes, it’s true that I study the Bible every week in order to proclaim it to others on Sunday mornings, but as any pastor can tell you (or any Christian for that matter) I need that time in the Word for own soul. With my busy schedule, I decided that I would wake up at 4:00 a.m. and begin my time of study before heading to the gym. Well, lately, for whatever reason, I haven’t been able to get out of bed when the alarm goes off. I find myself hitting “snooze” until it’s an hour later and I have to get to the gym if I will have any time for breakfast with the family before heading into the office.
What does this have to do with God’s providence? Everything. Can I let you in on a little secret about me? If I’m woken up before my alarm goes off, especially if it’s close to my alarm going off, I can’t go back to sleep very easily. I’ll find myself tossing, turning, and thinking about all that I have going on in life. It’s very difficult for me to fall back to sleep once I have woken up. Last night, I was woken up before my alarm went off. Aaron was crying (again!) and I went into his room to rock him to sleep. I found myself awake and knew that I was going to be awake for some time. It was amazing to me that I was awake about an hour and a half before my alarm was set to go off. I rocked with Aaron for some time and realized that I was fully awake and ready to start my day.
I wasn’t going to struggle waking up this morning to study the Bible. God had woken me up. I don’t believe that was a coincidence. I had been praying for God to give me strength in the morning to wake up so that I could get downstairs to pray and study. He answered my prayer, just not in the way I thought He would. He answered my prayer through a perceived interruption to my life. And you know what? That’s exactly what I needed. I’d like to encourage with that. God is always working. He’s not idle. He’s not asleep. He’s always working and ordering the affairs of our life through His providence.
What we need to do is stop and look around and ask God, “what are you doing through this?” Maybe you are going through a frustrating time of life right now. I’d encourage you to stop and pray and ask God, “What are you doing? Please give me strength to trust in you even though I may not see what you’re doing.” You’re not God. He sees the big picture; we only see what’s happening in that moment. Let us be a people that can say with the psalmist, “The LORD is righteous in all His ways, and kind in all His deeds (Ps. 145:17).”
Now, let’s get to how a crying baby showed me my need for Jesus. I’d like you to think that I was super spiritual in that moment when I heard Aaron crying. I’d like you to think that I jumped out of bed, wide-eyed, full of vigor and passion, ready to rock my crying boy. I wasn’t. I was frustrated. I think I even groaned (loudly), “Are you kidding me? I can’t take this anymore!” (again, don’t judge too hard). I was upset. I was frustrated. I was annoyed. Call it whatever you want, the truth of the matter was, I was angry.
Why was I angry? Because I’m selfish. If I can put it bluntly; that’s why. I was angry because I wasn’t getting my desired sleep time. I wasn’t getting to lay in my bed. I was angry because I’m a selfish, human being. I wasn’t exhibiting that righteous anger that Jesus displayed nor Paul spoke about. I was demonstrating sinful anger. Here’s what I was learning last night: what’s cooking on the inside will come out. Jesus speaks to that doesn’t He? In Mark 7, Jesus says that the heart of the problem, is the problem of the heart. My problem wasn’t that I wasn’t getting any sleep, but that I wasn’t getting my way.
I love what Paul Tripp says regarding this issue. He says,
“when angry, most people explain their anger by blaming something or someone else outside themselves…. James [4:1-10] says we will never understand our anger that way. Instead, he counsels us to do the exact opposite-to look within. This is a fundamental biblical principle. The only way to understand your anger is to examine your own heart (Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hand,77).”
Yeah, last night was fun. It was a gut check that, by God’s grace & mercy, He delivered. I’m extremely grateful that He reminded me of that truth. I’m not perfect. I’m not the best dad. I’m a sinner. I need Jesus. It was through that conviction that I was reminded of the beauty of the gospel. Although my flesh was cut from conviction, it was being stitched by the Spirit’s sanctifying work. Yes, I’d like to have more sleep, but I’m more thankful for those lessons I received last night. “The Lord is righteous in all His ways, and kind in all His deeds.”
Soli Deo Gloria,
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