June 1, 2016

Psalm 3:5 I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.

Sleep is something we tend to take completely for granted, until we can’t sleep. When we can’t sleep, that’s all we can think about! Sleep is actually a basic need, and enforced sleeplessness causes permanent damage. That was documented over 50 years ago when a radio announcer, as a publicity stunt, decided to go a matter of weeks without sleep and asked people to help him do so, with no idea at all of the dangers. He ended up completely psychotic, and actually died not long after, if I recall correctly. Sleep deprivation has been used as a torture technique in trying to gain information or compliance from prisoners, and it can be quite devastating. David had no idea of any of that, but he knew the blessing of sleep, and that it was a gift from God. Anxiety is the biggest cause of insomnia, and at the point David wrote this he had plenty of reason for it, with his own son after him, seeking to depose him as king. Under such circumstances he might reasonably fear being killed as he slept, which is why this verse is so meaningful. He made the choice to trust God, and was rewarded with restful sleep. We might not have reason to fear being killed in our sleep, but we certainly can learn from David’s example, and receive the restful sleep God has for us.

I’ve had times of insomnia, and I’ve found that far and away the best way to overcome it is choosing to focus on gratitude. If I lie in bed thanking God in my mind for all that He has done for me, before long I am asleep. The song, O Lord, You Have Been Good, is a particular favorite, and since I translated it into Japanese, I let it play in my mind in both languages, to very good effect. (Actually, I do that often when I am out walking also, and I don’t go to sleep then!) I give that advice to various people who are struggling with insomnia, and when they take it, I get reports of real relief. However, some people can’t seem to get the idea into their hearts, and they depend on sleeping pills, with all the assorted risks. That’s sad, but all I can do is speak the truth in love and pray for them. Of course, physical factors like pain can certainly interfere with sleep, so I must not be simplistic, but for myself and others, trusting God will benefit any situation.

Father, thank You for a good night’s sleep last night. Thank You also that I was able to lie down yesterday afternoon, when I was falling asleep at the computer. I got pretty irritated with students who were falling asleep in class yesterday morning. Help me extend Your grace to them in love. May I be an open channel of Your grace to others so that I may enjoy it fully myself, not just in the area of sleep but in all areas, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!


About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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