I will both lie down and sleep in peace,
for you alone, Lord, make me live in safety. (Psalm 4.8, Christian Standard Bible)
“At length the Lady Galadriel released them from her eyes, and she smiled. ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled,’ she said. ‘Tonight you shall sleep in peace.’ Then they sighed and felt suddenly weary, as those who have been questioned long and deeply, though no words had been spoken openly.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkein, The Lord of the Rings.
Bruce was a man driven to succeed. He worked long hours, jotted down notes for the next day over family meals, and stayed up late developing long-range goals. Nights would go by and Bruce would barely sleep. One week he decided to stop trying and stayed in his office to work while his family slept in the rooms above.
This went on for five nights. Then, Bruce’s body began to betray him. He became dizzy and couldn’t concentrate. He developed a debilitating case of pneumonia and could hardly catch his breath. His whole body ached, but he kept pressing forward — for two more nights.
After the seventh night, Bruce began to see and hear threatening things within and around him. He became consumed by the notion the world was coming to an end and all he loved would end, all those he cared about would be destroyed as he looked on, unable to do anything about it. What began as a conscious decision to create more productive hours in the day turned into a vicious curse that left him incapacitated day and night.
The promise conveyed in Psalm 4 is that the Lord provides for us the rest we need to sleep peacefully — to be refreshed and rejuvenated to prepare for the next day’s battles against the enemies within us and around us. Restful sleep restores our bodies, our minds, and our spirits so we can better live in peace with God, with others, and with ourselves. As we enter into the rest God provides, we enjoy safety and security. We rest in peace in this life and into the next.
How has lack of sleep affected you in your life?
What can you do to more readily enter into God’s promised rest?
O LORD GOD, you give me the night for rest, and the day to labor. May my body so rest during this night that my mind cease not to be awake to thee, nor my heart faint or be overcome with slumber, preventing it from adhering steadfastly to the love of thee. (adapted from John Calvin’s “Several Godly Prayers” in the Catechism of the Church of Geneva.)