I’m up to my elbows in busyness this week, so I’m posting a few chapters from my new book, Deep Roots, which I’ll publish later this year. I’m in the middle of the final rewrite, so please give me any feedback which can make these chapters better.
Insomnia (Psalm 4)
Have you noticed the increasing number of mattress commercials? All your sleepless nights can disappear with a new memory foam, air-inflated, gravity-defying mattress. Just try it out for half a year, and if you don’t sleep like the dead you can return your new space-aged mattress with no questions asked.
While a new mattress may help alleviate some causes of sleeplessness, there some nights where sleep won’t come regardless how comfy our mattress is. Sometimes we’re so exhausted we can’t sleep. Our brains won’t shut down because they keep replaying the events of the day. We rewind to the events of the past week, or month, or even years gone by. During those sleepless nights, our brains rarely recall happy memories. It’s usually the stressful stuff: how will I pay the bills this month, why did my uncle get cancer, why isn’t my marriage better? The list could go on and on.
Insomnia. Welcome to zombie land.
Psalm 4 is an extension of Psalm 3 in which king David again cries out to God to relieve him of his stress over his son Absolom’s rebellion. He pleads to his enemies to repent of their anger and get right with God. Look what David writes in Psalm 4:7-8,
You have put gladness in my heart,
more than when their grain and new wine abound.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep,
for You alone, O Lord, do make me to dwell in safety.
Chaos ruled David’s life when he wrote these words. His son was trying to overthrow him and steal the kingdom for himself. He had been chased out of Jerusalem and was living in exile outside the city. Yet, in the midst of his heartache and uncertainty, David found gladness, security, and peace in God’s protection and love. And thus, thousands of years before our modern sleep technology, David could sleep peacefully.
Sleepless nights usually result from stress, which affects everything from appetite, mood, energy, health, as well as sleep. We can learn from David’s example in times of stress. David looked above his dire situation and saw God really was in control, which resulted in joy. True joy isn’t an emotion, because emotions wax and wane depending on the situation. True joy finds contentment and peace in God regardless of the situation. Putting faith in Jesus does not guarantee a safe, comfortable life with a great marriage, steady income, and a home in the suburbs. In fact, we can be sure that life will be hard at times. But it does mean that we can find peace in spite of our circumstances because of Jesus.
Jesus did not sleep the last night of his life. He went through five illegal trials. His friends deserted, denied and betrayed him. The next morning, he was beaten beyond recognition and nailed to a cross. Three days later, God raised him from the dead. Look at what the Bible says about that in Romans 5:1, “Therefore having been justified (proclaimed innocent) by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Think about the phrase “we have peace with God.” It implies that, before following Jesus, we were at war with God. Talk about a losing cause. The almighty, all-powerful, completely holy God was at war with us because of our sin. Yet, because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we’re at peace with God. Forgiveness through Jesus means no longer fearing God’s wrath or punishment because Jesus took those things for us. Part of having peace with God is knowing that, in spite of all the evil in the world, God will make everything right again. The final victory has already been won. Guaranteed.
Yet, we often live like the end of Revelation can be rewritten. We live like Satan can still pull out a win. We worry and we stress. We lose sleep. We forget that God provides for the lilies and sparrows, and we’re much more valuable to God than they. There’s a huge difference between knowing about God’s ultimate victory and living it out now even though it hasn’t been totally realized. Like the man who begged Jesus to heal his son, we must say, “I believe. Help my unbelief.”
In the midst of his suffering, David found peace in God because he believed in God’s goodness. He knew God was bigger than his problems. He knew that no matter what, God alone was his protection and provider. Therefore, he could rest his head in peace.
So when life has your head swirling, and you’re having trouble finding sleep, don’t count sheep. Count your blessings.