September 16, 2021
“I can’t sleep.”
A cousin said this while we were waiting for a family member’s COVID test results.
One friend also shared that she’s been having trouble sleeping since her father came home from the hospital. Both her parents were sick and were already in recovery, but thinking that they may fall ill again keeps her half-awake all night.
A niece couldn’t sleep several nights before she took her board exams. She was losing sleep not from test preparations but because of anxiety.
Sleepless nights are nothing new to many of us. There are times when we deliberately stay awake to care for sick loved ones, to pull an all-nighter to beat a deadline for a school requirement, to play video games, or to binge-watch movies or TV series.
And then there are nights when we want or even need to sleep, but we can’t.
How can I sleep when something bad might happen to my loved ones while I’m sleeping? How can I rest well when I do not know what I will wake up to?
A few nights ago, I was praying with a friend whose young nephew just got healed from a fever that resulted in seizures. As we were saying our goodnights, she expressed, “Parang natatakot na akong matulog . . . Pero, naalala ko na hindi pala natutulog si God.”
Anxiety can rob us of restful sleep because threats and dangers are real. But, thankfully, we have a God who keeps watch all throughout the night.
For he is always watching, never sleeping.
Psalm 121:4 (TLB)
God, who made us in His likeness, made us so different from Him in this aspect. He never sleeps while we sleep away one-third of our lives!
Because our God never sleeps, we can sleep.
This reminds me of my young niece who gets scared when she sleeps alone, but when we’re in the room with her, she easily falls asleep without a care in the world. There is just that complete trust that we, the adults in her life, can fight off any danger and imaginary monsters that may come in the night.
In the same way she trusts us, we also need to completely trust God as we face the very real monsters of pain and sickness, especially a few years ago when that same young niece went through chemotherapy and battled leukemia for 30 long months. Even during the worst of it, when we feared for her life, the peace of God allowed us to sleep when we needed to, knowing that God loves her more and is more than able to protect and care for her than we ever could.
We can rest from fighting life’s battles because God is God and we are not.
Sleep is God’s daily reminder to trust Him.
He tells us to be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10). It is in those moments when we feel most helpless that God says, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:13–14)
Even Jesus, being fully man as He is fully God, slept. Tired from a full day of work, He slept soundly through a windstorm while He and His friends were out at sea!
But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
When the circumstances around us make us feel like we’re drowning, we need to remember who is in the boat with us. Jesus’ companions were experienced fishermen and yet they didn’t know what to do anymore.
It was a moment for Jesus’ closest followers to know and experience who He really was.
And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
“Who is this that even the wind and waves obey Him?!” He is God.
The desperate moments when we cry out, “Do You care?” becomes an opportunity to know who God is. He is in control. And He cares for you, so you can turn all your worries over to Him and sleep.
It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night,
anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.
Psalm 127:2 (NLT)
Sleep is God’s daily message that He loves us.
Sleep is a gift of love that we sometimes refuse when we give in to worry and work harder and longer to figure things out on our own.
He is the one who makes us skilled for our tasks and prepares us for our daily battles (Psalm 18:34)—may it be academics, relationships, and personal challenges. He knows and values your thoughts (Psalm 139:2). But He does not want you to be consumed with doing and thinking.
He does not want you to go about your waking hours anxious. He uses the sleeping hours to refresh and remind you that He continues to work even as you sleep. God invites you to lay all your burdens down and trust in His love.
It’s true, many things can go wrong while we sleep—and even while we’re awake! But the greater truth is that we have a God who cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). We can turn over our worries to him and sleep like a child in our Father’s arms.