How well did you sleep last night? Are you getting enough sleep? Apparently at least 70 million North Americans have problems sleeping at some time in their lives. Millions of people, young as well as old, are having a tough time getting a good nightís sleep. One expert says "We are a dangerously sleep-deprived society." The results can be disastrous. Sleepy workers cause nuclear accidents and deadly oil spills. Sleepy drivers cause thousands of car crashes in Canada every year.
Why is it so hard for many people to have a good nightís sleep? The frantic pace of life today explains much of it. Thereís more and more pressure to work a 24-hour day. Many people work from 5 to 9 instead of 9 to 5. Theyíre on the job before sun-up, and until after sun-down. Their days become longer and their nights become shorter. No wonder you end up with less sleep! You donít have time to sleep, because you are working. And when you do go to bed, you take your worries with you. You find sleep hard to come by because you are thinking about your work or worrying about tomorrow.
So whatís at the bottom of this problem of sleep? Itís your work and your attitude to your work. Thatís why sleeping problems can at bottom be spiritual problems. Iím not talking about sleeping problems caused by your neighboursí barking dog, the clockwork crying of your new-born baby, or a health problem of one kind or the other. Iím talking strictly about sleeping problems as a result of your work. Thereís a definite connection between your dayís work and your nightís sleep. If your dayís work is too long or if it leaves you burdened with worries, it will steal time from your nightís sleep. Sleepless nights can be caused by daily work!
In the Bible, God has something to say about your attitude to your daily work and your nightly sleep. He tells us in Psalm 127: "Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain." There are different kinds of work. But a hard dayís work doesnít guarantee anything. If God doesnít bless your work, your greatest plans wonít succeed. You can work hard, but whoís to say that you will succeed? What if the rain doesnít fall or the sun doesnít shine on your crops? What if your equipment breaks down and you canít get the job done for your customers?
Itís not hard to see that these worries about work lead to sleepless nights! Your head hits the pillow, but instead of sweet dreams thereís tossing and turning with thoughts of work, worries about tomorrow. The Bible says about a person with this attitude to work, that his life is "toil and anxious striving Ö all his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest." (Eccl. 2:23) In other words, no sleep!
Do worries keep you awake at night? Life doesnít have to be like this. Jesus Christ came to take away the anxiety of this kind of life. Psalm 127 adds: "In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat - for he grants sleep to those he loves." For those whom God loves, itís different. Theyíre given the gift of sleep. They donít have to spend sleepless nights worrying about daily toil.
Why? Because Christ came to save people from this empty way of life, from a slavery to vain days of toil and sleepless nights. Through faith in Christ, God the Ruler and Creator, who blesses work, is your loving Father. You still have to work. But you wonít lose sleep over it. When your daily work is done, you wonít worry about tomorrow. Because tomorrow is in the hands of God your Father. And heavenly Father will take care of things. That doesnít mean that there will be no problems at work tomorrow. But it does mean that God your Father in Christ has it all under control.
Christ Himself said "Therefore I tell you do not worry about your life." Not about clothing, food, or drink, for "your heavenly Father knows that you need themÖ Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself." (Matt. 6) No worries! Your focus in life is Godís kingdom and His righteousness, and not your daily bread. So you can come home from work, hit the pillow, and sleep. Psalm 127 says it plainly: "he grants sleep to those he loves." You donít have to try to sing yourself to sleep. You can instead sing the words of Psalm 4:8 "I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety."
Experts write all kinds of books about sleeping problems, but they miss the main point: if you trust in the Lord for your work, there would be no worries, but sleep instead! God gives sleep to believers in Christ, to those He loves! Are you in danger of missing the point? Whatís the attitude that you have to your work? Do you trust in your Father in Christ to take care of you? Donít be a slave to a vicious cycle of work, where you work around the clock, trusting in yourself for success. Pray to your heavenly Father, and trust in Him to take care of you. And when you canít sleep, donít count sheep, but talk to the Good Shepherd, who takes away worries.
Work hard. Trust in God. And sleep well.
Rev. Richard E. Pot
Published in Clarion, Vol. 52 No. 14