A good night’s sleep is a great blessing, something many of us forget or take for granted. Those who struggle to sleep – because of illness, insomnia or the broken sleep parents face with a new baby – know how wearying life seems and how difficult it is to focus and concentrate when we have not slept well. The benefits of sleep are multiple (including reducing stress, lowering blood pressure and improving memory skills) and yet few of us really understand the importance of sleep.
The Bible makes it clear that sleep is a gift from God (Ps 127:2) and that sleep is also an act of faith. Going to bed doesn’t seem to be the most courageous thing we do, but sleep is actually one of the ways we can declare the Lordship of Christ on a daily basis! Every time we go to bed, we are acknowledging God’s sovereignty and expressing trust that He will wake us, refreshed and restored (see Is 50:4).
So often, worry and anxiety keep us awake, filling our minds with thoughts. These usually revolve around the impossible situations in our lives, the things over which we have no control, the difficulties which we cannot overcome. Illnesses, pain, fears and sorrow are our bedfellows, keeping us awake. But David, even in the midst of persecution and battle, declared, ‘In peace I will lie down and sleep, for You alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.’ (Ps 4:8)
We only have to look at the wailing baby, fighting sleep with all its might, rubbing red eyes and crying hysterically simply to try to stay awake, to realise that sleep is indeed an act of faith. As we sleep, we trust God will protect us, guard us, sustain us and provide for us (as an alternative rendering of Ps 127:2 reads.) We know that sleep brings restoration and refreshment; even Jeremiah spoke of a ‘pleasant night’s sleep’ when God spoke to him through dreams. (Jer 31:25-26)
The Bible gives us examples of trusting sleep: Jesus in the stern of a boat during a raging storm (Mark 4:38); Peter asleep in a prison cell, needing to be woken by an angel so he could be rescued from prison (Acts 12:6-7). Again, we only have to gaze on the wonder of a sleeping baby to realise that trust is by far the best way to live.
It’s no surprise that God even likens death to falling asleep, thereby removing fear and anxiety from the most frightening thing life can throw at us. Because of this, we can determine not only to live by faith, but also to sleep by faith! God’s in control – we can afford to rest and sleep!