I have a love-hate relationship with sleep. I love how great it feels to get a good night of sleep and how it reminds me of the goodness of the Lord who "gives to His beloved sleep" (Psalm 127:2)*. Even when I'm asleep, God is still at work upholding the universe, and He keeping the world moving according to His plan (Hebrews 1:3). Sleep is a time that I can let go of control and fully trust God to do His work—that's literally something I can do nothing about.
Yet this lack of control is why I also struggle with sleep. There are nights where sleep eludes me, and I fight with everything inside me to get some rest. I can't solve my problems while I'm laying there, but it seems impossible to shut my brain off. The stress of desiring to relax is exhausting! Yet I lay awake, tossing and turning, longing to get comfortable. This reminds me that I'm not in control—even of sleep itself. Those nights I cry out, "Lord, help me sleep. You can take care of my problems... but I can't seem to trust you enough!".
Sleep is deeply spiritual. There's no doubt about it. But it's also is heavily impacted by our physical environment and life choices. Since we aren't disembodied souls, we need to think about sleep. Consider what Scripture says:
"It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil"
Chasing vanity is spiritual, but it has physical consequences—rising early, going to sleep late, and toiling anxiously. We need to cast our anxieties on the Lord, and that's something we all know (1 Peter 5:7). However, we may also need to change our habits and take practical steps to get the rest we desperately need.
What Hinders Our Sleep?
Anxiety and vanity aren't the only reasons we aren't getting enough shut-eye. Some sleep hindrances are easy fixes, while others are going to require major changes—changes like a job change or waiting for your babies to grow up and sleep better! However, getting more and better sleep is something that most of us could probably benefit from. So we should learn what else could be keeping us awake at night.
Why Does This Even Matter?
For me, this matters tremendously. When I don't get enough sleep, I struggle in every aspect of life. I'm usually irritable, impulsive, and I have a hard time focusing. Worse, when I don't get good sleep, it's a struggle for me to wake up and spend time with the Lord. There are many days where I get an extra 15 or 20 minutes of sleep instead of getting up to spend time with the Lord. The day isn't a total loss, but I can definitely feel a fatigue in my soul that seems to match my body. Maybe it's just me, but when my sleep suffers, my soul suffers too.
You may not be as sensitive to changes in your sleep habits as I am, but sleep is still important. Perhaps better sleep could help you think more clearly or give you more energy to spend with your children. Surely a sharper mind could help you memorize more Scripture or teach with more clarity. Maybe you'd be more fun to be around because you have more energy and aren't moping around like Eeyore. I know my wife and children are thankful for the days that I get good rest!
What about you?
Are you getting enough sleep? What will you change to improve your sleep quality? How does gospel give you hope even if you can't make drastic improvements to your sleep?
*Your translation may say that God gives to His beloved even in his sleep. This rendering reminds us that God gives to us even as we sleep. He never stops providing and caring for us.
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