As I write this devotion, I’m tired. My eyes are heavy, I’m doing quite a bit of yawning, and I ohfhewfhiwfhiwhefi;hhihFH;HFHF;HF. Oh! Sorry! My head hit the keyboard.
When I came home from working at PVCC this morning to eat lunch, I laid down for about ten minutes in hopes of taking a VERY short “power nap”. I never fell asleep; at one point, I had to discipline Javan and Nolan from down the hall as they had a disagreement over a LEGO piece in their bedroom.
Ironically, while this was all happening, Calvin – perhaps THE primary culprit in Olivia and I’s lack of sleep – was snoozing in his swing downstairs. Lately he’s been staying up late, and keeping us both awake (in all fairness, more Olivia than me). In addition to Calvin’s nighttime antics, I usually don’t sleep as well in the summer (I get hot easily, and staunchly refuse to turn the A/C down).
But you don’t have to have a baby, or be a utilities cheapskate like me, to know what it’s like to feel tired. All of us have had rough nights, weeks, or months with little to no sleep. It may be caused by an upset stomach, stress at work, a family emergency, a chronic medical condition, a barking dog down the street, or a decision about whether or not to send your kids back to school during a pandemic. We’ve all spent nights staring at the ceiling, pacing the halls, or counting sheep when we should have already been dreaming.
As I thumb through the Psalms, I find two passages particularly comforting and reassuring.
The first passage:
“In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8)
David (the author of Psalm 4) knew a thing or two about sleepless nights. As the freshly-anointed King of Israel, he spent the early years of his reign on the run from his predecessor, King Saul. David knew what it was like to sleep in an uncomfortable cave, long before he was kept awake by the stresses of sitting on a majestic throne in Jerusalem. David knew what it was like to lay his head down knowing that his enemies were on the prowl. Later in life, David would also learn what it was like to wrestle with his own feelings of guilt and regret at night (see Psalm 32:3-4). And yet, in Psalm 4, David expresses his faith that he can close his eyes at night without fear as long as God is on his side.
The second passage:
“He (the LORD) will not let your feet be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” (Psalm 121:3-4)
God, on the other hand, is not like David, and is not like you and me. God does not need to sleep; he’s God! He does not get tired; he does not need to recharge; he doesn’t get cranky or clumsy without regular shuteye. The King of Heaven keeps watch over his people while they sleep; meanwhile, earthly kings often expect their subjects to do that for them.
These are good passages for me to keep in mind during a season of life when I’m tired. Perhaps tonight, after writing about these verses for this devotion, I’ll sleep a little bit better. As I toss and turn, I’ll remind myself of the truth of Psalm 4: that I can sleep in peace knowing that God watches over me.
That being said, there really are dangers out there. Terrible things can happen while we sleep. A burglar could break in, a fire could start, or a natural disaster could occur. But even then, I can remember the truth of Psalm 121: that God does not sleep, so nothing (not even something I consider horrible or frightening) escapes his vision.
Maybe these passages will help me tonight; I hope they may be helpful for you too. For many of us, the year 2020 might feel like a nightmare. But knowing the truth about who God is might help us get a good night’s rest.
We see Jesus sleeping peacefully in the Gospels (for example, during the raging storm of Matthew 8:23-27). Part of what makes the Incarnation so mind-blowing is that Jesus is fully human, and thus needs to sleep – and yet is also fully divine, never ceasing to be one with the God of Psalm 121 who doesn’t sleep.
And it’s by faith in Jesus’s broken body and shed blood on the cross for our sins that we can rest well as God’s sons and daughters – knowing that God is on our side – even during storms.