How have you been sleeping recently? Do you find yourself waking at night, worried about the future?
Wish you could sleep as soundly as your pet?
Cats and dogs have an advantage when it comes to sleeping deeply. They’re predator animals: in the wild, canines and felines are hunters. Large predator mammals generally spend more time in deep non-REM sleep than their prey.
Prey animals such as rabbits or deer, the hunted, spend more time in lighter non-REM sleep. They also experience very little REM sleep at all. Their survival is dependent on being permanently alert, and the paralysis of REM sleep would make them too vulnerable to their predators.
I wonder if the poor sleep we humans often experience relates to our feeling “hunted,” relentlessly chased by worries, deadlines, and obligations?
Is there a way we can calm our anxious minds and get a good night’s rest?
Yes! I believe the Bible offers some tips to help us sleep better.
God knew that our anxieties could keep us up at night. In His Word He tells us that trusting in Him is the key to achieving the sort of inward peace that promotes good sleep.
“When you lie down, you will not be afraid; When you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.” (Proverbs 3:24)
“I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for you, LORD, only make me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8)
Jesus was a perfect example of how trusting in the Father can give us peace even when we’re going through turmoil in our lives.
In Matthew 8:23-27, Jesus and His disciples were on a boat on the Sea of Galilee. A ferocious storm arose, and the boat was rocked by waves. The tempest was so violent that the disciples, seasoned fisherman, feared for their lives.
But Jesus was fast asleep in the boat. The storm didn’t disturb Him at all. He didn’t rouse from His slumber until the panicked disciples implored Him to rescue them from impending doom. Jesus had peace on the inside, despite the tumultuous circumstances raging around Him.
Jesus stilled the storm, and admonished the disciples for their fear and lack of faith. They needed to learn that Jesus, while asleep in the boat, wasn’t asleep at the wheel, so to speak. He had (and still has) everything under control for believers.
Later on, Peter showed that he’d learned this lesson well. In Acts 12:1-11 we find him in prison, possibly about to be executed. But he was soundly asleep in his cell. An angel appeared in his cell to rescue him, but he was in such a deep sleep that the blinding flash of light accompanying the angel’s arrival didn’t stir him. The angel had to poke Peter in the ribs to get him to wake up.
Peter had peace on the inside now, too.
How do we get that sort of peace? Here’s a good prescription:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
We can trust that God has our backs. Scripture tells us that He never sleeps, but is watching over us with loving care 24/7:
“He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” (Psalm 121:3-4)
I heard of a pastor once who was facing a number of difficult challenges. He knew, however, that God doesn’t sleep, but works on behalf of His children around the clock. There was no need for the pastor to fret. He expressed his trust in God by saying,
“No use the both of us staying up all night worrying about this, God. I’m going to get some sleep!”
If you’re feeling “hunted” by worrisome circumstances in your life and are sleeping poorly as a result, trust that your loving Heavenly Father has everything in hand.
Let Him take the night shift!
© 2020 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.