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  • Writer's pictureLou Fister

Grain & Wine

Updated: Jan 26

It was Sunday night. I went to bed early trying to avoid any more coherent hours full of pain - but like usual, I could not sleep. I had a lump in my throat and a pain in my chest. They had been there longer than a day, longer than a month, and longer than a year. My pain was both physical and emotional and the latter was by far the worse. I wondered if I would ever be right again.


Just that morning in church the pastor literally referred to this very condition. He had made this comment; "If you can't sleep because you are lying in bed stressing over something, is it possible that you are not trusting God with that situation?" In his typical kind fashion, my pastor asked the question so we would come to our own conclusion rather than poke us in the chest in an accusatory way. He trusted the Holy Spirit to talk to us - one of the reasons I loved his leadership and care so much. For me, his question was rhetorical. I knew I was stressed and I was not trusting - I wanted to, but I didn't know how. My brain ran amuck on its own and corralling my thoughts was beyond me.


My pain was over my broken family. My husband had left for another woman, my children were on a trajectory of destruction by chemical addiction and I was living a life I did not even have the capacity to imagine. My mind reeled relentlessly with plans to save my kids and our family. My pastor's words were weighty. It's one thing to say you trust God and it's another to turn out the light and sleep in peace when your world is in chaos. I wanted to be a woman known for real faith…but clearly I was failing.

 I decided to do the right thing even if my heart didn't feel it. So I made one of those fake-it-'til-you-make-it declarations and told Jesus that I trusted him to rescue my family and I was going to sleep. I turned out the light on my nightstand and struggled to get comfortable under the covers.  (sigh) I was determined but it didn't work. I have learned not to fake it for Jesus so I just got up and headed to the kitchen. On the way I mumbled to Him how I felt. I grabbed a handful of cheesy snack crackers and dilly dallied around for a few minutes and then headed back to bed. I wrestled again with the covers and getting comfortable thinking that this time I could drift off. Nope - not this time either.


I reached for my phone and began scrolling through current social media posts. That was a big mistake. My kids were posting pictures of their night with their dad and his girlfriend. The pictures were full of smiles, food, and alcohol. I was undone. My husband had told me once that part of his attraction to this woman was all the good food and conversation. I didn't have the money to throw a party with good food and there were no circumstances under which I would be serving alcohol to my children. Even with that truth holding my convictions steady, I was sad - very very sad. I already could not sleep and now there was an arsenal of real images to torment me.

 Lying in bed, I corralled my painful thoughts long enough to ask myself what the logical solution to my crisis was. OH! The Word… Yes, read the Bible. Since  I truly believe that every human condition is addressed in scripture - both its pain and its resolution - this solution held promise. So I reached for my Bible . Surely, God would throw some blanket of peace and sleep from the heavenlies if I read His Word. But, this too did not work. I could see the words on the page but they seemed disconnected and random. My broken brain, full of images of my kids and husband eating and drinking with the other woman, could concentrate on nothing else. Still, my pastor's words from twelve hours earlier rang in my head, "…is it possible that you are not trusting God". I laid there while my brain hosted the wrestling match between the pain I was feeling and the trust that I desperately wanted to feel.


I squinted trying to shut up the thoughts long enough to think of my next action step. I knew from experience that the Word always has my answer. If I could not read it, maybe I could just listen to it. So I grabbed my phone off the nightstand, found my Bible app and hit the audio button. Then I set to finding a comfortable position in bed. This is no easy task. I have a spine full of nuts and bolts. Moving in bed is awkward and painful and getting situated takes a few minutes. I couldn't hear what the audio Bible was playing because the sheets and blankets were rustling in my ears while I tried to get comfortable. This went on for a few minutes and finally I got into a position where my body could relax and I was still.


I heard myself sigh. The next thing I heard was the soothing male voice of the Bible app… "You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety."


 What???!!! For a split second I thought that my brain was in need of resolution so severely that it was creating its own monolog disguised as my Bible app. Quickly, logic told me that was not the case so I flipped on the light and grabbed my phone to look at the text that I had just heard. Sure enough those are the real words of Psalm 4, verses 7 and 8. Literally verses about food and alcohol and the joy that God gives that eclipses all of that - AND the sleep that follows. I just  laid there for a second stunned. Trying to do the math so to speak. I have no words or thoughts that do justice to the sovereignty and love of God that would turn off my audio Bible the last time at just the right place so that it would turn on at this time at just the right place. I was undone in a whole new way. Again, my eyes spilled over with tears. I still felt broken and sad, but loved… so very loved by God. I could trust Him - and I fell asleep.


My family situation did not get better the next day, or the next month, or the next year. But for each new obstacle that family and the other challenges of life have brought, I trust. Not because I had done something remarkable to learn how to trust, but because God had so gently reached into my pain and proved himself trustworthy.

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