All of us sleep ever day (at least I hope we do!). Sleep is a fact of life. Without sleep we could not live. But have you ever thought about what sleep teaches us spiritually? Here are some of the things the Lord would want us to know and learn in relationship to sleep.
First, we sleep because we must but God never sleeps: “Behold, He who keeps Israel Will neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121:4). We sleep because we become fatigued and tired but “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable” ( Isaiah 40:28).
Second, we sleep and in our vulnerability we are completely at the mercy of the Lord’s protection: “In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, O LORD, make me to dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8); “The fear of the LORD leads to life, So that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil” (Proverbs 19:23);
Third, we sleep and we wake up because God sustains us: “I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the LORD sustains me” (Psalm 3:5). This is a remarkable fact of our regular rhythm of life, God is moment by moment sustaining our very life and the life around us. He spoke all life into existence and moment by moment life is being sustained by God. When we are awake we are often under the delusion that we are sustaining ourselves. But there is a reason we have involuntary functions of our body that just happen and we have no control over. Our heat beats when we are awake because God is sustaining our life. But if we consider sleep this fact is heightened in our minds. Awake or asleep God sustains our life, but when we are sleeping we are not really aware of life and yet God is sustaining us. In fact, we learn from two passages that Jesus Christ our Savior is sustaining us moment by moment physically as well as spiritually: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:15-17). “And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3).
Fourth, we sleep and that should remind us that we must rest in the LORD in all our lives: “It is vain for you to rise up early, To retire late, To eat the bread of painful labors; For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep” (Psalm 127:2). Each night we lay our head on the pillow and sleep we should be reminded that just as we sleep and are resting totally in the hands of the Lord’s protection and His gracious sustaining of our life, so too while we are awake we are completely at His mercies and are in desperate need of His enabling strength.
May the Lord enable us to rest in Him whether sleeping or awake. He does not sleep, He is our protection, He is the One who is sustaining us whether we are sleeping or awake, and He is the One who gives us strength and all that we need: “He gives to His beloved even in his sleep” (Psalm 127:2).