Connections 08.12.2018: Watching for Morning

Psalm 130:5-8; John 6:41-51

Time moves slower at night.

As infants, my daughters always slept restlessly. I would nurse them to sleep (it was the only way they’d give in), and then my husband or I would carry them to bed, lower them into the crib, and back away with a degree of stealth worthy of any secret agent. Then, a few hours later when our world was dark and silent, their piercing cries would practically shatter the baby monitor. We took turns soothing them back to sleep, watching for morning.

To this day, when my children get sick, it frequently hits during the darkest hours, jolting me from sleep and sending me into action. An upset stomach, a hacking cough, a high fever, a sore throat—anything that interrupts their sleep is guaranteed to interrupt mine. Since I work from home most days and my husband is always up and out the door early, such nights are usually mine to manage. I sit on the bathroom floor next to a queasy child or start a humidifier or administer pain meds or just lie in bed with her until she can sleep, watching desperately for morning.

In times of great stress and uncertainty, the bulk of my own battles happens at night. If something is unsettling my spirit, I can usually make it through the day with little disruption. At night, though, a racing heart can keep me awake. A great gasp for air can startle me from sleep. A panic attack can steal an hour from my rest. On nights like that, I watch in hope for morning.

So I—like you, I imagine—identify well with the writer of Psalm 130. We know what it means to “watch for the morning.” We know how long the wait can seem, but we also appreciate the promise that morning will indeed come. The sun will rise again. Another day will happen, and somehow things are always clearer in the morning.

We know, too, what it means to “wait for the LORD.” Sometimes that wait seems long too, but we appreciate the promise that God will indeed come through for us. And, as followers of Jesus Christ, we know that centuries of waiting were fulfilled when he came to earth as “the living bread” (John 6:51). Long before the gift of Christ, the people of God watched for the morning, when they knew God would provide their daily bread in the form of manna. When Christ came, he insisted that he embodied a different kind of bread that would fill their spirits.

We who wait and we who hunger can trust the promise of God’s presence. Even when we can’t feel it or even sense it, we can cling to the hope of its return, just as we watch for the morning.

Discussion

1. What long nights can you recall when you watched for the morning? How did you make it through?
2. Why do you think nighttime can seem so long when we are going through difficulty?
3. What is it like to wait for the Lord? When has your wait for God been satisfied by the experience of God’s presence in your life?
4. How do you think it felt to be a wilderness wanderer with no food except the manna God promised to send each morning? What level of trust would that require?
5. What does it feel like now to be a wanderer in your earthly life, often with no firm evidence of God except the promise of God’s presence through Jesus Christ? What level of trust does that require? How is that trust satisfied in your life?

Reference Shelf

6:41-48. Reaction and defense. The reaction of the Jews is by John defined in Exodus terminology: “murmured” (NRSV, complained). The text implies they understood that he was claiming divine descent and mission. As a result they launched into a discussion of his family tree, which they said they knew (v. 42). The irony is obvious. Jesus responded in terms of his relationship to the Father and the eschatological hope of those drawn to him by God (v. 44). His response was based on the proclamation of the prophets that in the messianic era God’s people would be instructed by God (cf. Isa 54:13; Jer 31:33-34).

…he then identified their concern for physical bread and their earthly messianic hope with the hopeless state of those who perished in the wilderness even though they ate physical MANNA. But those who are nourished by the living bread, Jesus said, would have eternal life (v. 51). The problem for them was that such bread was his flesh.

Gerald L. Borchert, “John,” Mercer Commentary of the Bible, ed. Watson E. Mills et al. (Macon GA: Mercer University Press, 1990), 1058.

Kelley Land, a graduate of Mercer University, has been an assistant editor of Smyth & Helwys curriculum and books since 2001. She is also the office administrator for Jay’s HOPE, a nonprofit serving families of children with cancer. Kelley attends First Baptist Church of Christ in Macon, Georgia. She enjoys spending time with her daughters, Samantha (13) and Natalie (11), and her husband John. Currently, she is looking for the next opportunity to be onstage in a local theater production. She also loves Marvel movies and Doctor Who, and she will always be a writer at heart.

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