Chasing Sleep?

A few nights not so long ago, as sleep slipped slowly away in the soft stillness of the night, my soul stirred. I woke underneath a blanket of thick darkness. No matter how much I ripped and rolled, the darkness rarely roused enough to retreat. In those moments, I found myself feeling much like Asaph, the great singer, and musician of David’s and Solomon’s era.

“I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me. I sought the Lord in my day of trouble. My hands were continually lifted all night long; I refused to be comforted. I think of God; I groan; I meditate; my spirit becomes weak. You have kept me from closing my eyes; I am troubled and cannot speak. I consider days of old, years long past.” Psalm 77:1-5, CSB

Does sleep run away from you? Do you find yourself reliving the heartbreak of past events or possibly creating unrealistic scenarios you’d like to see play out? Perhaps, you find yourself wrestling in the darkness with insecurity, fear, guilt, shame, or grief. Maybe doubt jumped straight up in front of you, shooting haunting questions in rapid-fire succession. Those questions, at one time or another, can tempt each of us to dismiss God’s willingness and ability to help. If sleep slips away from you, Asaph feels your pain … and so do I. Do his questions sound familiar?

“Will the Lord reject forever and never again show favor? Has his faithful love ceased forever? Is his promise at an end for all generations? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?” Psalm 77:7-9, CSB

I learned something about the darkness during those soul-stirring, sleepless nights. Sometimes, it was Satan who woke me up to torment me. Sometimes, it was God rousing me out of sleep so I could hear Him and without distraction. But then, other times, it was hard to know whether it was God or Satan who had opened my sleeping eyes. Here’s what I learned: God’s light dispels darkness. Period. When Satan chooses to whisper lies in the darkness until we wake up feeling anxious and afraid, we can choose to step into the same light Asaph chose. If it’s God choosing to wake us up, we can choose to bask in the light of His presence. No weapon fashioned against us and hurled in the darkness will ever hit its mark again. 

Can you embrace the quietness of the night to become a light seeker?

These days, when I wake up much too early, I do what Asaph did. “At night I remember my music.” (Psalm 77:6, CSB) My ear pods and phone lie on my nightstand every night. I have specific playlists on my phone for just such an occasion. If I think the darkness is trying to overtake me, I stick to worship music into my ears. Music that praises God encourages me, but it is Satan’s kryptonite. After all, he worshipped in song with the angels (some belief as their worship leader) before he got too full of himself and was thrown to earth like lightning. (Luke 10:18) Worship music helps us resist Satan and causes him to flee because it draws us closer to Jesus. (James 4:7-8) Not even Satan’s skinniest arrow can slither through music like that! 

Most times, I can fall asleep again while listening to my music. Occasionally, I need to go a step further on Asaph’s path:

“I will remember the Lord’s works; yes, I will remember your ancient wonders. I will reflect on all you have done and meditate on your actions.” Psalm 77:11-12, CSB

Before God gave me a new heart, I sadly paid more attention, especially in the night, to the whispers of Satan rather than the mighty works God had done on my behalf. Pride caused me to become my source of strength. I worked hard to solve my problems and fix my own broken emotions rather than finding rest in God’s power. 

Now, I enjoy looking back at all the events of my life and how God used them for good. I have seen Him do an abundance of beautiful things – exceedingly, abundantly more than I could have ever asked for or imagined! Each one came about in His time and not mine. He’s much more patient and intentional than I am. Because I’ve experienced all these blessings, I can rest my mind, will, and emotions during the night. I know He will continue to do beautiful things because I’ve seen Him do them again and again. Extreme thankfulness gives birth to intense joy, and joy is the spark that ignites our love for God and others. It keeps us from getting too full of ourselves.

If you’re having trouble sleeping, pay attention to your glorious God, listen to some majestic melodies, and recall all of God’s goodness in your life. Only then will you be able to release your regrets, diminish your doubts, ponder God’s promises, and love others limitlessly. 

“God, your way is holy. What is a god great like God? You are the God who works wonders; you revealed your strength among the peoples. Psalm 77:13-14, CSB

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