As I put our two older kids to bed a few nights ago, it struck me how easy it was: tell them to get in bed, pray, say goodnight, turn off the light and close the door. But it wasn’t always that easy. Until our oldest was over a year old, he woke up every 45 – 60 minutes, often screaming. We didn’t know what to do. We prayed, we cried, we fought, we tried countless parenting tricks and we often got on each other’s frayed nerves because we were both sleep deprived.
I remember commenting to my pastor that if our baby had been easier, I wouldn’t have been so intentional about praying for him. But as it was, he was keeping me up at all hours of the night, so I spent a lot of time praying and wondering why this was happening. Part of the reason it was happening was because God was getting to my pride. I thought I was a decent person and that nice people have nice, easy children. But as lack of sleep stripped away my ability to put on a front, the cracks in my character began to surface. I found out that I can be hurtful with my words, and I can be selfish. I started to realize that I wasn’t “good” after all, and that God was wanting to get at certain parts of my character to change me. Here I was with a problem I couldn’t solve, and I had no one to turn to but the Lord. It was painful yet effective.
There came a point when we decided to let our baby “cry it out,” which is hard for loving parents to do, but it turned out to be a good decision. When listening to a baby cry, it’s important to look at your watch because 30 seconds of baby crying feels like half an hour. “Crying it out” by no means fixed the problem, but it did help. As a result of this and other factors, he began to sleep two, three or even four hours at a stretch. After waking up every 45-60 minutes, four hours of uninterrupted sleep felt luxurious.
But there were still times when nothing worked. He would often wake up not just crying but screaming for no apparent reason, and bedtime was still a huge war. I remember kneeling on the living room floor with Abby praying for our one-year old as he cried for sixty minutes straight. The minutes crawled by.
It took deliverance prayer for things to really turn around. After we were joined by a friend of ours for a week of intense prayer, he started to sleep through the night. There’s a lot more to the story, but God really did a miracle before our eyes. If I hadn’t spent a year struggling, crying, praying and staying up at night, I don’t think I would have appreciated it as much as I did.
Still, it is easy to forget what God has done, so it is good to testify of his power and his deeds. Thank you, Jesus, for what you have done for us.