Up All Night
Then King Darius returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep. – Daniel 6:18 (NIV)
When I was graduating from high school, one of my parents’ friends asked me what I was most looking forward to about college. I did not have to think twice. “I can’t wait to stay up all night!” I exclaimed. I had no idea what people who stayed awake all night did, but the idea of not having to be obedient to a curfew seemed to me the height of mature sophistication.
Alas, the first time I stayed awake all night was less a party and more a festival of regret as I struggled to begin a paper that had been assigned weeks before. “If only I’d started earlier,” I stewed. Moving past the regret, then as now, was like wading through wet cement. I was still writing when the sun rose.
In the book of Daniel, King Darius, following the advice of his scheming advisors and possibly his own jealous heart, throws Daniel into a den of lions. Whatever party he had planned to follow this action, his night instead turns into a regret fest.
But the king’s regret does not paralyze him, as mine so often does. If you keep reading, you find that Darius jumps out of bed at first light and runs to make right what he has done wrong. There he encounters the living God.
What’s keeping you from sleeping at night? If you’re mired in regret, the story of King Darius is a reminder that you don’t have to stay stuck there. God’s blessing awaits on the other side of morning.
Holy God, Grant us respite from the toss and turn of regrets tonight and every night. Amen.
Jennifer Garrison Brownell is pastor of Vancouver United Church of Christ. Her writing appears in the collection, The Words of Her Mouth: Psalms For the Struggle, available from The Pilgrim Press.