“We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4)
We define ourselves by our work. One of the most frequent questions we answer is what do you do? Where do you work? What is your occupation? Furthermore, It is the most fundamental question we confront early in our lives, “What career should I pursue?” Many of the great achievements of our age are related to work. Work is even a primary consideration in our relationship with God. Religious people are among the busiest on the planet. Religious services demand armies of paid and volunteer labor fulfilling a multitude of ministries from preaching to potlucks. Years ago in my Pastoral days, we often referred to “the work,” as a euphemism for the continual activities of the ministry. Work, especially religious work, gives meaning, purpose and direction to our lives. So, what should we make of Jesus’ statement “night comes when no one can work?”
In the night activity ceases and that’s what makes it makes it so spiritually arduous. Daylight represents our time for achieving great exploits, taking our place alongside those contributing to the betterment of society. In a spiritual sense, we take it as a mark of divine blessing when we are in the forefront of the spiritual warfare, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against us. In the day of our spiritual achievements, we stand tall, acclaimed and recognized for the great work in which we are engaged. But then comes the night when no one can work.
Night seasons represents the times when the dark horse rides into our lives and leaves us bloody and broken at the side of life’s road. Like Samson we try to rise as before to embark on our great work but there is no strength. We cry out in agony of spirit; we flail about but the more we strive the more helpless we feel. “God, I want to a great work for you. Help me.” “Look at all the good I have done, such marvelous things for your glory and the good of others.” But the night is not a time for work, achievement, fame, or fun; it is for resting, listening, feeding the spirit, and preparing for what is to come, whatever that may be.
Night is Elijah running for his life from the murderous queen Jezebel, exhaustion overtook him and in blackest despair he lay down in the shade of a broom tree and despite the danger fell asleep. Later he arose with a start, as a hand shook him awake, perhaps thinking Jezebel’s men found him, but it was an angel who brought him food and water, “get up and eat.” He ate and soon fell asleep once more. Again, the angel came with food, “Get up and eat, or the journey will be too much for you.” In the night, we rest and eat and wait. God will send angels into your life while you wait.
Night is the time to receive. In the night, Jacob saw angels ascending and descending between earth and heaven bringing spiritual food and water to tired, discouraged souls suffering in the night. “Shorten the night” we cry, “I want to get going.” “Rest and eat” says the angel, “or the journey will be too much for you.”
Conroy Reynolds is author of God in the Night: How to get through when you can’t get over