So how did you sleep last night? Apparently, about 40% of us don’t usually sleep that well. There are many reasons why ranging from an uncomfortable bed, to medical issues, to taking care of kids, to noise or light. Sometimes it’s just beyond our control, but often it’s because we can’t unplug from technology, life or work. Our minds are being constantly stimulated. We wake up in the middle of the night and our to-do list begins to scroll in our heads. Our hearts begin beating faster. We stress. We fear. We worry. We plan. Our sleep deficit leads to decreased concentration, less creativity, lower energy, decreased effectiveness, moodiness, illness, depression, and more accidents, to name a few of the unhealthy byproducts.
God designed sleep for us to unplug and allow our bodies to rest, restore, repair, replenish and reenergize. We need sleep. Although not often enough, we say we “slept like a baby.” Why? Because a baby doesn’t have a worry or a smartphone or a to-do list. We wish our children and grandchildren “sweet dreams,” and our prayers with them almost always include a request that God give them a good night’s sleep. Seems like we should pursue God for the same thing? After all, sleep is a gift from God. Our Good Shepherd is the one who “makes us lie down” (Psalm 23:2).
God designed us to put our hands to good work, but He never intended for work to dominate our lives and push Him to the side. “It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; for God gives to His beloved even in his sleep” (Psalm 127:2 NASB). God lovingly blesses us with sleep as we rest in Him – as we “cast our cares upon Him” (1 Peter 5:7). Pray before you close your eyes at night, give Him praise for the day, mediate upon all His faithful promises, and put your needs and cares in His loving hands. A grateful heart is like a supernatural sleeping pill.
God gives sleep as a blessing, but He sometimes withholds sleep to get our attention. As David testifies, “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer” (Psalm 32:3-4 NASB). If you’re experiencing restless nights, maybe it’s the hand of God. Ask Him to create in you a clean heart. Try confessing your sins to Him. A clear conscience is way better than counting sheep.
Fear attacks like a predator to torment our hearts and minds, but it is God alone who stands watch to defend us while we sleep. You may lose consciousness, but God thinks about you all night long. “In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8 NASB). “When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet” (Proverbs 3:24 NASB). We fear so many other things, when “the fear of the Lord leads to life, so that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil” (Proverbs 19:23 NASB). Walk with the Lord, obey Him, trust Him and fear not! A calm assurance in our Rock is like a soft pillow.
While some of us may truly need to seek counsel from a medical doctor, the majority of us can get a great night’s sleep from regular visits with the Great Physician. So tomorrow morning, I pray the words of Jeremiah become your waking testimony: “At this, I woke up and looked around. My sleep had been very sweet” (Jeremiah 31:26 NLT).
© 2015 Tim McKenzie
On Every Word Ministries