Cries in the Night

Jena’s screams woke me from a sound sleep. I jumped out of bed and ran toward the direction of
her voice as she continued to yell, “Mama! Mama!”
In those days, we did a lot of hollering in our home, mainly because we didn’t have an intercom
system in our split-level house. To get each other’s attention, we shouted out the name of the
person we wanted to talk to and/or we banged on the wall at the foot of the stairs that led to the
bedrooms. I often thought that we sounded a lot like the Waltons as they called out their goodnights.
Anyway, I realized that Jena’s screams in the wee hours of that morning differed from our normal
calls to one another. In her desperation, she made “Mama!” sound like two distinct words. She
needed help—immediate help!
Having no idea why she needed me, I raced toward her, my heart pounding with fear. I found her in
the bathroom. Then I knew. She had come down with the stomach virus that had been going
My children had learned to handle routine emergencies with a fair amount of calmness, but
vomiting was an exception. Maybe they believed that upchucking was something one cannot go
through alone because I had always been there for them, as my mother was for me. In fact, I grew
up thinking that when I experienced stomach upheavals, it was absolutely necessary to have Mother
standing behind me with her arms wrapping me in a kind of bear hug—one hand over my churning
stomach, the other one on my clammy forehead.
As I matured, I realized that there were many situations other than stomach distress that caused
people to cry out for help. For example, financial problems, sickness, grief, failure, broken
relationships, and the like, prompt us to seek comfort and assistance from someone who cares.
Whenever we make our plea(s) for help, we need and expect someone to come to our rescue.
If our cries are ignored, we wonder, Why doesn’t someone come to help me? Doesn’t anybody
care? Is there no one to help? Do I have to face this alone?
Sometimes we must reach that low point before we turn to our real source of help. Unable to find
the human assistance we need, we cry out to God. When we convey to Him our desperation and
frustration, He hears and responds.
David the Psalmist had learned just where to go for real help. ”O God, listen to my cry! Hear my
prayer! From the ends of the earth, I will cry to you for help, for my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to
the towering rock of safety, for you are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach
me. Let me live forever in your sanctuary, safe beneath the shelter of your wings!” (Psalm 61:1-4). In
yet another psalm, David stated that the Lord has not and will not forsake those who seek Him;
neither does He forget those who cry to him for help. (See Psalm 9:10,12).
By using figurative language, David testified that he considered God’s presence a place of refuge
and safety, a place where he found comfort and shelter from whatever threatened his well-being.
When you and I call upon God for help, He responds to us even more speedily than I did to Jena’s
cries in the night.
Excerpted from Reflections by Johnnie Ann Burgess Gaskill, c2002.
Contact information for the author is given on her website:
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