THE midnight hour tends to conjure up a forbidding picture of darkness and gloom, the lowest ebb of human experience. But it can also be the prelude to a great surge of new hope and inspiration as the dawn approaches. A woman discovered this for herself one night. She had been suffering severely from insomnia for a number of years, and nothing seemed to help her. On this occasion she was lying awake, steeling herself for another long night of wakefulness. Then she put on the light and opened the Christian Science Hymnal to Hymn No. 158, which begins: It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old, The angels, bending near the earth,
Their wondrous story told Of peace on earth, good will to men,
From heaven's all-gracious King; The world in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels sing.
Her first thought was, ``Oh, that's a Christmas hymn, so it isn't any help.'' Then the words ``the midnight clear'' suddenly stood out to her. She had always thought of midnight as obscure and foreboding, and the use of the word clear to describe it was startlingly different. She began to realize that it wasn't midnight itself, but her own association of unhappiness with it, that needed to be changed. Midnight didn't have to bring unhappiness, and the shepherds certainly didn't feel unhappy when they heard of the coming of Christ Jesus.
She saw that inspiration can come to all of us as we glimpse the impact of the teachings of Jesus and expect to see his promises fulfilled. As she lay thinking about this simple line from the hymn, she fell asleep quite naturally and woke the next morning refreshed. This was the turning point in her battle, and she was soon sleeping normally every night.
Each one of us can hear the Christly message of good at any moment of receptive thought. And this can transform the midnights in our experience into happiness and freedom.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, makes a distinction between the man Jesus and the ongoing divine influence, or Christ, which he so fully illustrated and embodied: ``Jesus was born of Mary. Christ is the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness.''1
The presence of the healing Christ can be discerned in prayer. It reveals the heavenly kingdom within, the pure spiritual consciousness that doesn't plunge from hope to despair and back again, depending on circumstances, but stays serenely aware of the perfect government of the one divine Mind, God. The Christ shows us that our true being as the expression of this Mind isn't a volatile material personality prone to moods but the spiritual, satisfied offspring of God.
Paul and Silas experienced the power of Christ in very practical terms when they were persecuted and imprisoned for spreading Jesus' teachings. The Bible says: ``And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed.''2
It isn't only at times of extremity that the Christ speaks to us. But at these times we are often more ready to listen, more willing to surrender our own human way, which hasn't served us very well anyway. Then our particular prison doors -- whether of disease, poverty, loneliness -- spring open.
1Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 332. 2Acts 16:25, 26. You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. John 8:12