Have you had any sleepless nights lately? Do you struggle to lay peacefully in bed because something, or someone, is consuming your thoughts?
Maybe it’s a looming deadline and you’re putting all the pressure on yourself to make that big project a success. Maybe it’s a life-altering decision you need to make on behalf of your family and you just don’t know what option is best.
Maybe it’s an act of betrayal and deceit and the good thing you had been working towards is now destroyed by the corruption of another. Maybe it’s news from your doctor about a new physical affliction that’s going to drastically impact your life.
We all struggle to sleep at night, and to be fair, life in a fallen world is harsh and unpredictable. There are many outside factors that make life difficult and provide reason for restless nights.
But I’m deeply persuaded that in the midst of trial, we often abandon our theology. We quit believing that the Bible has the answers for life and we try to take the reins. With the weight of the world now on our self-appointed shoulders, we struggle to get a good night of sleep.
GET A BETTER NIGHT OF SLEEP
When you’re facing the harsh and unpredictable realities of life in fallen world, what should you do? Here are four actions that find their roots in the Word of God, but it’s important to recognize that these actions are not one-time quick fixes. As long as you’re facing difficulty, you’ll need to continually preach the gospel to yourself as you fall asleep.
1. Accept the Confusion
If you haven’t recognized it already, you have very little control over your life. You didn’t choose where you would be born or how your parents would raise you. You didn’t choose the color of your skin, the language you spoke, or how wealthy your family was.
The reality is that you have a miniscule amount of control in gargantuan universe. Add to that the sin and brokenness you face at every turn, and life gets overwhelming.
If you believe a false gospel of self-sovereignty and personal control, you’ll be kept awake when life doesn’t go according to plan. The first step in falling asleep is to accept that you don’t have much reason to sleep peacefully!
2. Evict the Imposters
When the waves of pain and difficulty come crashing down, you need to seek shelter. Sadly, so many of us seek shelter in all the wrong places.
Some pick up a bottle of alcohol or painkillers to physically numb their bodies; others drown out the pain with television and food. Others yet take a credit card to purchase items they don’t need, in the hope that material things will provide comfort for their soul.
If you buy into the false gospel of earth-bound treasures, you won’t have many restful nights of sleep. Evict the imposters and invite the Messiah to commune with your soul once again.
3. Pursue the Disciplines
In the midst of trial, it’ll be very tempting to abandon the spiritual disciplines of your faith: prayer, fasting, meditation/memorization of Scripture, and attendance at worship services/small groups.
When you abandon these disciplines, whether you intentionally mean to or not, you’re saying, “I don’t need God or His church – I can make it on my own!” That’s never a good idea; your heart is corrupt, and you need help to see yourself and your situation with accuracy.
If you believe a false gospel of self-sustainment, you’ll struggle to wake up each morning with energy. You weren’t created to live independently, even in a sinless world. Live with God – His Spirit, His Word, and His body of believers.
4. Trust the Author
All these other actions – Accept, Evict, and Pursue – make no sense unless one thing is true: God is the good and wise author of your story:
- Because God is the author of your story, you can accept the confusion and find rest, knowing that everything in the universe is managed with complete and specific authority.
- Because God is the author of all that is good, you can evict the imposters and find comfort in communion with Him, even in the midst of physical trial.
- Because God is the author of life, you can pursue the spiritual disciplines and find peace, knowing that God’s wisdom for your life is far better than pursuing it on your own.
You and I don’t have to crumble when we don’t understand; we don’t have to be paralyzed with fear because our plans have blown up in our face. We don’t have to dread what the next day will bring.
You and I can sleep because God is wise, loving, and powerful. He is in moment-by-moment control of every detail of our lives.
Paul Tripp “Sleepless Nights” July 8, 2014