“I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.” -Psalm 3:5
“I didn’t sleep a wink last night!” How often have you had to say that? Just what is the function of sleep in your life? Sleep is, you know, a necessity of life; you can’t live without it! It is almost as important as air and water, as taking in life-sustaining nutrients.
Every time you see “sleep” in the Psalms, it is not with the same outcome. There are sleepless nights, “bones-aching” nights, nights when the Psalmist rises to pray, nights when he tosses and turns, nights when he has a mind that will not rest, and nights when he is rewarded with sound, restful sleep. So it is with us. Sleep differs with us all. Some struggle with the terrible malady of insomnia, while others can fall asleep anywhere and at any time. Some nights we find rest, and some nights rest will not come.
You are created with the need for regular sleep. Irregular sleep produces health problems. Is the inability to get a good night’s rest a spiritual problem? Not necessarily. We are made with a body which is complexly integrated with spirit and soul. Discerning what is the cause of sleep problems is no easy matter. Body chemistry is involved, the mind weighs in, biological components play their part, and the way we are made, the influence of hereditary genes, stress, and pain all may contribute.
In any case, those who sleep regularly may take it for granted, and those who struggle for sleep pray it would soon come. The Bible teaches that God is the One who sustains your life. The Lord gives or restricts sleep whether or not you believe it. Some live ignorantly of this truth, while others live with the knowledge that the Lord sustains their life, thanking Him while asking for His continuing mercy and grace.
Sleep is a reminder of His daily care, and we should be mindful of His moment-by-moment attention. We learn this from the marvelous Book of the Psalms and from all the pages of His Word. When you cannot find sleep, you should rise to read His Word and pray. The Psalmist did so; so should you.
You might be amazed that a partial night of sleep combined with reading His Word and prayer will equally give you a full night’s rest, maybe even more. Many saints through the ages have proved this so. Their prodigious prayer life is a testament that God sustains the prayer life of His saints. Heaven will reveal the power of faithful prayer – prayer which substituted for sleep.
Perhaps not finding sleep is a reminder to rise, pray, and read. Spend the time with your Lord. Those quiet hours alone with Him are sustenance in themselves. Such “work” is the most restful and sustaining you can find. “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.” He will, as you open your heart to His feeding – feeding which may well come in the middle of the night.
“When in the night I sleepless lie, my soul with heavenly thoughts supply; let no ill dreams disturb my rest, no powers of darkness me molest.”
(Fourth verse of Thomas Ken’s hymn, “All Praise to Thee, My God, This Night,” 1695)
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