It’s frustrating. Laying awake, watching the minutes turn into hours. Knowing that tomorrow you will not be functioning well during your daily activities. I love Job’s description, “When I lie down I say, 'When shall I arise?' But the night is long, and I am full of tossing till the dawn.” (Job 7:4 ESV) Considering Job’s hardships, he had good reason to struggle with insomnia. Insomnia is a common symptom of both anxiety and depression. Knowing Job’s losses, it is probably fair to say that he was struggling though either anxiety, or depression, or possibly both. Maybe you find yourself tossing and turning like Job. You try to make use of the time by reading, watching TV, eating, etc., sometimes to no avail. Or perhaps you are one that lays awake with numbness. No thoughts, just stillness in the dark of night. If you are struggling with insomnia, you are not alone. Around one third of Americans report not getting enough sleep.
Insomnia can be spiritually frustrating as well. We see several times in the Bible when God gives sweet sleep (Proverbs 3:24), even to those with an anxious heart (Psalm 127:2). Jesus could sleep through a torrential storm while on a boat when everyone else was panicked (Luke 8:23)! Didn’t God create day and night and create a Sabbath because we need rest??? Yes. And prolonged lack of sleep is detrimental to your health and wellbeing.
However, we also see that God uses bouts of insomnia for great purpose. In Esther 6, King Ahasuerus finds himself tossing and turning. He chooses to have the historical book of his reign read to him to try to catch a few winks. Through the reading, the King is reminded of the salvation brought to him through Mordecai and God uses this long night to change the course of history for that nation!
Jesus goes so far as to request that his disciples not sleep in the Garden of Gethsemane when He goes to pray in His distress. He wanted them to be awake to see what God was doing. Salvation was coming through this difficult and dark night. God was using another sleepless night to change the course of history!
As we can see, God is working day and night. He never rests nor grows tired and weary. So next time you cannot seem to fall asleep, go to Him. Much like Jesus would go be alone and pray all night (Luke 6:12), perhaps He is trying to meet with you at a time when no one and nothing else is there to distract you. Maybe He wants to speak some peace and comfort into the situation that plagues your thoughts and disrupts your sleep, leading to His gift of sweet sleep. Maybe there is great purpose to your insomnia tonight, possibly even changing the course of your life!
*If you are experiencing prolonged lack of sleep that is effecting your daily functioning, please see a doctor and counselor immediately.
For further reflection-
Job 7:4 When I lie down I say, 'When shall I arise?' But the night is long, and I am full of tossing till the dawn.
Proverbs 3:24 If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
Psalms 127:2 It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.
Luke 8:22-25 One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, "Let us go across to the other side of the lake." So they set out, and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. And they went and woke him, saying, "Master, Master, we are perishing!" And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, "Where is your faith?" And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, "Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?" '
Esther 6:1-3 On that night the king could not sleep. And he gave orders to bring the book of memorable deeds, the chronicles, and they were read before the king. And it was found written how Mordecai had told about Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, and who had sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. And the king said, "What honor or distinction has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?" The king's young men who attended him said, "Nothing has been done for him."
Matthew 26:40-41,45 And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, "So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."
Then he came to the disciples and said to them, "Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.”
Isaiah 40:28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.
Psalms 121:1-8 I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.
Luke 6:12 In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.