Sleep And Rest

You are my God and protector. Please answer my prayer.
I was in terrible distress, but you set me free.
Now have pity and listen as I pray.

2 How long will you people refuse to respect me?
You love foolish things, and you run after what is worthless.

3 The Lord has chosen everyone who is faithful to be his very own,
and he answers my prayers.
4 But each of you had better tremble and turn from your sins.
Silently search your heart as you lie in bed.
5 Offer the proper sacrifices and trust the Lord.

6 There are some who ask, “Who will be good to us?”
Let your kindness, Lord, shine brightly on us.
7 You brought me more happiness than a rich harvest of grain and grapes.
8 I can lie down and sleep soundly because you, Lord, will keep me safe.     Psalm 4 (CEV)

I work late at night. It affords my husband and I to each have about four hours of complete, focused quiet in our individual work days. Then in the afternoons, we work together on projects and have our meetings. I have observed almost every night someone who comments on Facebook or Twitter that they are awake at 2 or 3 or 4 a.m. and unable to sleep. Some offer specific reasons and others say they do not know why they are awake. I’d like to offer some ideas.

Worry. No surprise that this is arguably the most common reason we do not sleep well at night. And certainly there are events and conditions in our lives that produce worry.

We know that Jesus asked bluntly, “Will worry add one hour to your life?” He also said “not to worry about tomorrow because each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:24-34)

I think often that the worry comes when we lie down because that is when we finally stop and think. During the day we are just running from one task to another; trying to keep our heads above water.

Non-stop thinking. It’s like an audio or video tape or a YouTube program that is just on permanent “replay.” Conversations thought over as to how they could have went differently. Plans for tomorrow or the next week or month or year are considered. “How can I make enough money for _______?” Even the anticipation of good things, like leaving on vacation, can be negative when you cannot get needed sleep.

Pain. This is something that I have learned a lot about in the last three years. It’s obviously difficult to sleep when you are in physical pain. Sleep deprivation makes work and everyday functioning impossible. And medication cannot be the only answer.

All this is about more than sleep. It is about finding a place of rest. It is relaxing in peace, security and assurance that turns off the worry and thinking and pain.

About ten years ago, I made a change in my bedtime routine. Instead of just coming into my bedroom and crawling into bed, I began to do things to help me make the transition from my busy, high-stress day and wind down and enter into a place of rest. Some nights I read Scripture. It could be a chapter or even a few verses that become a thought that winds its way around in my head. Other nights I listen to worship music as I fall asleep. And then there are the nights when I count my blessings. Yes, I use the alphabet and think about: What am I thankful for that begins with the letter “G”? and so on.

Worries and problems? Well I have learned to talk them over with God. Some nights I have to write them into my prayer journal, telling God all about them and then literally “shut the book” on the worries, leaving them in God’s hands.

All of these are intentional habits that God has laid on my heart. God may have some suggestions for you. It’s a choice and I won’t say that it’s easy because it’s unlearning years of worrying and fretting. Not surprising, that I have found that Jesus was right – worrying does not add anything constructive to my life!

Let us enter into the rest of the LORD and sleep well.

Now the Day is Over written by Joseph Barnby and Sabine Baring-Gould and sung by Hastings College Choir, NE




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