Songs in the Night Day 2: Songs of God’s Mysterious Kindness
Where is God my Creator, the One who gives songs in the night? (Job 35:10, NLT)
But each day the LORD pours His unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing His songs, praying to God who gives me life. (Psalm 42:8, NLT)
Paul and Silas, beaten and bloody, chained in a dungeon, singing praise in the dark of night. Jonah, waterlogged and hopeless, humbled and doomed, praising God from the depths of a fish. Job, bereft of everyone and everything he held dear, clinging to the last breath of earthly life, confidently proclaiming, “I know that my Redeemer lives and … I will see Him with my own eyes” (Job 19:25,27).
How does this happen? What reality carries our souls beyond the unthinkable challenges we face to a place of praise, stubborn hope, and courageous faith? What brings a song from our lips in the thickest darkness? What do those songs tell of God’s heart? What depths of beauty from ashes do those songs convey? How do those songs touch and encourage the hearts of others around us?
Let’s look at the story of Jesus’ disciples’ frightening night on a stormy sea to discover some amazing answers to these questions. Read the account in Matthew 14:22-33.
“Jesus insisted that His disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake” (v.22).
The LORD Jesus intentionally sent the disciples out on the water, alone, knowing they would encounter that storm. They were being obedient. They were not outside of His will for them and enduring complications He hadn’t planned for them. This complication was planned.
This sounds heartless to us. To believe that Jesus callously or recklessly sent His own disciples into the path of a terrifying storm goes against everything we know of His heart. So, we begin to ask the question: if it really came from a place of love and good purpose, how was it a kindness to them?
“[Jesus] went up into the hills by Himself to pray. … Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble … for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves” (v.23-24).
Here they were, in their element as rugged fishermen, in an area of perceived expertise, yet they were in trouble! The LORD allowed them to come face to face with their limitations in the most unlikely place. Has that ever happened to you?
Where was Jesus? He was praying! Probably among other things, He was specifically praying for them! “I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail” (Luke 22:32, ESV).
“About [3 am] Jesus came toward them, walking on the water … they were terrified” (v.25-26).
Jesus sent them into the boat before nightfall, before the storm. If they’d known what He knew, they wouldn’t have gone. We don’t know at what time darkness fell or when the storm arose. We don’t know how long they had been exhausting their own resources, struggling and panicking. Our own struggles can seem endless; we don’t know the endpoint—but He does.
They were already afraid. They saw Jesus coming and immediately assumed it was a ghost and became even more afraid. No good decision, no good assumption comes from a place of fear. What they couldn’t grasp in that moment was this: their worst nightmare was actually their Savior coming to rescue them.
It was beyond their imagination that Jesus could do such a thing. Their view of Him was much too small. Their reasoning was informed only by their finite minds and their limited experience.
This is where we begin to see God’s mysterious kindness come into view. He wanted to give them personal experience from which to draw a deeper, wider, higher understanding of who He is! In kindness, He wanted to spare them from being terrified in any future storm they faced. He is willing to send us into a frightening place so the reality of who He truly is can be revealed to us.
“Don’t be afraid … I am here!” (v.27).
He was essentially saying, “I am. From everlasting to everlasting, I am.” There is no need to fear—“I am here with you.” These were words they would likely never forget, words that made time stand still, their lungs take in air, their pulse slow, and their eyes widen. They would not forget this moment.
Later, in the upper room, huddled in fear once again and grasping for understanding of the fulfilled plan of God, the sacrifice of their LORD and Teacher, even though He told them this would be, they still didn’t get it. Many of the Gospels record His first words to them as “Peace to you.” Luke includes “Why are you frightened? (24:38).
Maybe in that moment, He took them back to that stormy night. They were in a different kind of storm now, but the truth that steadied them would be the same. “Don’t be afraid. It is I. I am here.” It was kindness that sent them into the first storm to lay the hallowed ground of confident trust and courageous faith to steady them in the future—even in the face of challenges that made little earthly sense.
Peter was bold and hasty. “Lord, if it’s really You, tell me to come to You” (v.28).
And the LORD didn’t hesitate. He loves nothing more than for us to walk in the power available to us to overcome perceived limitations when He calls us to step forward. For a moment, Peter forgot he had any. Eyes fixed on Jesus, he scrambled out of the boat and was walking on water with Him! But the waves crashed against his legs, he got distracted, lost focus, and began to sink.
“LORD, save me!” There was no time to second guess his original conclusion that this really was the LORD, no wallowing in the fact that his brave step of confidence ended in failure. Nope—he just cried out to the One who could save him. And Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him and they climbed into the boat together.
Have you ever been drowning? You know the right place to turn is to the LORD, but somehow you can’t find the strength to reach up? What a comfort that when we simply say the word, our Savior will immediately reach out to us and grab us so we don’t go under!
“When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped” (v.32).
Just like that. This time, it wasn’t even recorded that Jesus rebuked the winds and waves and told them to hush. They just did.
What songs might have emerged from the disciples’ frightening night on the stormy sea? The LORD Jesus purposely and lovingly sent the disciples into that dark night on the stormy sea, not to terrify them but to give them the opportunity to meet Him in the middle of their fear and to know Him as the One who can do the impossible to come near and rescue them!