February 13, 2023
Every so often I need a strong voice to remind me of the power of the God that I follow. Why can’t I hear Him whisper of His unfailing love when the digital clock flickers at 4 AM, taunting my mind with endless thoughts—with no shut off button. Spinning in circles, back on the hamster wheel of fear and doubt. The harder I try to stay my mind on Him, the more it wanders right back to the realities that haunt me instead of the spiritual realm that calls me.
I know that He is awake and has every aspect of me covered. “Behold, He that keeps Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps” (Psalm 121:4). Oh, “and He knows even the number of hairs on your head” (Luke 12:7). But instead, endless concerns rapid fire through my head: How will I handle such and such? Did they really say…? Will their health be restored? The list is endless; but such are the trials of life. I know you can relate.
So, what should one do when pervasive thoughts interrupt our much-needed slumber and how should we avoid staying there? First, acknowledge that the enemy of our soul thrives under the cover of darkness. And immediately rebuke any spiritual attacks by audibly citing the name above all names—Jesus Christ.
Second, practice the discipline of meditation on God’s word and His promises. I begin to pray, I recite His word, “Your word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11). I sing worship songs in my head. But if I’m being honest, I may find myself right back on that one-way road trip to my earthly cares and concerns. My flesh—even while praying—continually falls prey to my mind. But and this is a BIG but, I continue to “renew my mind” despite the relentless pull.
I make a groggy mental note that things will look and feel different in the light of day under the microscope of His Word. I know when I spend time with Him, regardless of the weight of the problem, I gain boldness, peace, and confidence. It is every morning that l reorient my mind in His word. I don’t want to captain my ship, so why do I hold on to unresolved thoughts in the deep of the night. Worry gets me nowhere.
Think about it, can you remember gaining any advantage from the things you were anxious about a year ago? Three years ago? Many, if not all our fears, never come to pass. And if they did, you can confidently say, “God works all things together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). The Lord keeps His promises without exception.
Sleep is vitally important to a healthy mind and body which is why it is constantly under attack. God created our bodies to sleep so that we have the benefit of rest which gives a necessary reset to our brains. Sleep prepares us for the challenges of another day and offers a fresh perspective
And we can be confident of His great mercy and faithfulness that awaits us. “His mercies are new every morning…great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:23).
I don’t discount the fact that God can also wake us out of our sleep to speak a word to our hearts or enlighten our minds for a spiritual solution. This however should be the exception and not the rule since He created our systems to sleep. The fine line is knowing from where your sleeplessness is coming from and how you are approaching it.
On the nights when I feel God has awakened me, I reiterate the words of Samuel to set the tone, “…speak Lord your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10). And then I lay still. Usually that only lasts minutes (sigh!), and then I proceed back to doing all the talking. The upside is that whoever comes to my mind during this period, I begin to pray for them, which sets me on a path of reclaimed peace.
“I sought the Lord and He heard me and delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4 ). Remember worry is an affront to His nature and He wants to deliver us if we are willing to remove our hands. This life includes trials, tribulations, sickness, and disappointments, all of which are a means toward spiritual growth. On the contrary, worry stunts our growth. So, when you are restless and unable to fall back asleep, ask God to give you a deeper understanding of what He wants in your heart, then turn your sleep back to Him and soon you will be sound asleep, “I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me” (Psalm 16:7).