On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
Sometimes prayer is remembering the ways in which God has helped us. It is common for us to carry in our minds and bodies the memories of events that have been difficult, frightening or traumatic. It is common for us to live out of the assumption that these difficult, frightening or traumatic events will repeat themselves in one way or another in our future. When we do this we literally scare ourselves. We live with anxieties about all the terrible ‘what ifs”.
But when we practice the prayer of remembering the many ways that God has helped us, our vision of the future begins to change.
Mister Rogers once told the story of how his mother would always encourage him as a young boy to “look for all the helpers” whenever anything distressing happened. It is good advice. We sometimes get so focused on the distressing events of life that we don’t notice all the helpers that God sends our way, or the ways that God’s grace and presence sustain us or guide us through the dark and difficult times.
Remembering God’s help in the past eases our fears about the future. This does not mean that we pretend about our fears or that we have any guarantees that our life will always be easy. In fact, we are all pretty much guaranteed that there will be challenges and difficulties throughout the various stages of life. But when we remember the specific ways that God has helped us in the past, we are able to trust more fully that God will continue to help us each day.
The psalmist uses the image of singing in the shadow of God’s wing. It is the image of a baby bird, safe in the nest with its mother. Protected, nurtured, loved. We live and rest in the shadow of God’s wing. Whatever comes, we are not alone. God is our help today and tomorrow, just as God has been our help in the past.
Remembering God’s help can turn our fears and anxieties into hope. Remembering God’s help is enough to make our hearts sing.
Sometimes in the dark of night
I lie awake
full of anxiety.
But sometimes, I stop myself
and I turn my mind to you
and reflect on the ways
you have helped me in the past,
all the ways you have been my
strength and comfort and guide.
When I remember your help
in the good times and the hard times,
my fears ease,
and my hope rises.
You, God, are my Help.
I rest in the shadow of your protective wings.
I sing songs of hope
because of your love and care.
Spend some time remembering specific ways that God has helped you in the past. Express to God whatever thoughts and feelings come to you as you reflect on God’s help and care. Spend some time allowing yourself to rest safely and to sing–like a contented baby bird sheltered under God’s wings.
What a beautiful picture of sitting under the shelter of Gods’ wings…How safe and secure that image is to me. It has not been an easy weekend or beginning of the week because of some fears that resurfaced about what it means to hang on to someone for help, and then how to let go, especially if we did not learn how to do either one. But then I began to think about all of the people God has brought into our lives, and the room sure fills up with loving, friendly faces that have helped us to face tomorrow and tough times with grace, and how to love each other with tenderness. I forget these faces far too often, Father. I pray you will help me to remember these people, and others whom you have recently brought into our lives. My new therapist, who is going to teach me how to hold on and how to let go, a new author on Facebook, Father Luke, and others… When the fear wells up in me, which I know it will, give me strength and mercy and grace to remember these people who have taught us the eternal things of life. In Jesus Name…
Juanita Ryan says
Jackie, I love this way of remembering God’s gifts to us: “the room fills up with loving, friendly faces that have helped us to face tomorrow and tough times with grace and how to love each other with tenderness.” This is such a powerful healing image. Thank you so much for sharing it!