I remember your name in the night, O Lord, and keep your law. – Psalm 119:55 (NRSV)
I remember a lot of things at night. Perhaps you do, too. I usually start with everything I didn’t get done that day. The calls not made, the emails not answered, the deadlines missed. Then the remembrances expand to the things I wish I hadn’t done. Time I wasted, frustration I should have kept to myself, cookies I shouldn’t have eaten.
Maybe you have your own nightly spreadsheet, too.
The later the hour, the longer the list. Sometimes the remembrances include not only the harm we have done or the good we’ve left undone, but also the harm done to us, perhaps that day or in the distant past. If so, we’re in good company. The composer of Psalm 119 recalls their own distress: “The arrogant utterly deride me. Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked” (119:51, 53). Late-night insomnia has a long history.
To deal with despair and distress, the psalmist takes comfort in God’s ordinances and commandments. “Your statutes have been my songs wherever I make my home” (119:54). And then the psalmist remembers something beyond the hurt, beyond the failings, even beyond God’s law: “I remember your name.”
When our nights grow long and our lists grow longer, may we remember God’s name. The name of Forgiveness. The name of Courage. The name of Love.
No matter what else we remember in the long nights of our souls, O Lord, help us to remember your name. Amen.