Sleep in the Bible
Sleep in the Bible – Basic Principles
A study of sleep in the Bible can teach us about God’s view of sleep and rest:
Sleep was God's Idea: God wonderfully created mankind to rest about one-third of their lives. It is a daily reminder of our lack of control and need for surrender.
God is not the sandman: The Bible does not provide a magical formula to get a little shut-eye. I present to you not a formula, but rather a focus. If God created sleep and rest, it would be wise to look at the owner's manual—God's Word—for answers.
God's eyes never close: The One who never slumbers or sleeps is just as active in our lives when we lay our heads on our pillows as when we are working, praying, and living our daily routines (Psalm 121:3-4).
Sleep in the Bible – A Heart of Surrender
As we explore sleep in the Bible and Bible verses on sleep, several attitudes surface about sleep and rest:
A Calm Heart – Jesus modeled the perfect balance between activity and rest. Trusting calmly in the protection and provision of His Father, Jesus slept peacefully in the bow of a ship during a raging tempest. Having the Spirit of Christ within, those of us who believe can rest in the peaceful assurance that God has our back—no matter what storms come our way (Luke 8:22-25; Mark 4:35-41; Psalm 4:8; Psalm 3:5).
Like Jesus, we should never lose sleep because of worry, fear, loneliness, anxiety, relational tensions, or tasks left undone. Based on His unmerited favor, God does for us what we cannot do for ourselves as we sleep. He provides for our needs and protects us from harm's way (Psalm 91:4-6; 2 Kings 6:14-19; Psalm 127:1-2).
A Responsive Heart and a Servant's Heart – On the flip side, our Lord's eyes never closed for sleep in the garden of Gethsemane. Surrendering to a greater purpose, Jesus prayed and prepared for the suffering of the cross. We typically think that the best way to prepare for a challenging day is to get as much sleep as possible. Ironically, Jesus acted in the reverse. Discipleship sometimes calls for sleeplessness to fulfill God's purposes and plans for our lives—and the lives of others (Luke 22:39-46; 1 Samuel 15:10-11; Esther 6).
Have you ever awakened in the still of the night for some unknown reason? Perhaps it’s just some undigested pizza. Or perhaps it’s the God of the universe waking you up to pray for an unknown trial on the horizon or waking you to serve or pray for a brother or sister in need (1 Samuel 3; Isaiah 50:4; Psalm 16:7; 1 Samuel 3; 2 Samuel 7:3-4).
When God calls us to give up rest, He also supplies us with mercies that are new every morning. The yoke of exhaustion is easy and the burden of sleeplessness is light when we consider that the Lord is working in and through our lives.
An Enduring Heart - Sometimes there are no answers for why we suffer with sleeplessness—incurable sleep disorders, the pain of chronic diseases, etc. Perhaps suffering with sleeplessness truly is a blessing in disguise. God's grace is made perfect in our weakness. However, we can victoriously endure by understanding that heaven is just around the corner. Sleep will no doubt be much lower on our priority list as we experience the eternal presence of Jesus with incorruptible bodies, worshiping in the presence of the saints and the angels. So whatever sleeplessness we endure in this world pales in comparison to the glory that shall be revealed when we arrive at our final destination. Insomnia may be a reminder that we are truly not home yet (2 Corinthians 12:1-10; Revelation 22:5; Revelation 4).
It's all about surrender. As we diligently seek God's kingdom, prioritizing Him first, He has promised to supply all these things—in our sleep or in our sleeplessness. Surrender your sleep to the One whose eyes never close. May God be your vision, your best thought by day or by night. Waking or sleeping, may His presence be your light.
Dr. Page is a surgeon, author, and father of five who enjoys watching sunsets with his wife Joanna in their Texas-sized tree house. For a free download of an overview of the spiritual principles of sleep, check out the surrendered sleep blog.
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