The Night Owl’s Cure for Insomnia

This one is for my fellow night owls. Those of us who will drag ourselves through the day and FINALLY make it to our beds only to catch a second wind at 9:48 and become convinced that if we just take a little time to plan right now, we can sort out our whole lives before tomorrow. The ones who find ourselves 2 hours later with bloodshot eyes, 5 hours until the alarm goes off, a restructured prayer journal (because it will be so much more efficient this way!), a reorganized junk drawer, a mile-long to-do list, a host of good intentions for tomorrow, and a sinking feeling in the pit of our stomachs that we still don’t have it all under control. I know there are some people out there who understand this struggle. Friend, hugs from afar. I get it. I really get it. I’m very pleased to inform you that there’s a verse for that.

Psalm 4:8 (ESV)

In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
    for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

Before you roll your eyes at me like, “Allison, I obviously already know that one!” give me a chance to present a little context and perspective that has made a truly massive impact for me. This verse is most powerful in its context, so here is the entire Psalm.

Psalm 4 (ESV)

Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
    You have given me relief when I was in distress.
    Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!

O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame?
    How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Selah
But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself;
    the Lord hears when I call to him.

Be angry, and do not sin;
    ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah
Offer right sacrifices,
    and put your trust in the Lord.

There are many who say, “Who will show us some good?
    Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!”
You have put more joy in my heart
    than they have when their grain and wine abound.

In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
    for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

This is a Psalm about trust. A song from the heart of a righteous man infuriated by others who turn away from God who seek after lies, who chooses to sort through his anger in his own heart and let God be the one who pursues their justice. The song of one who trusts that God will bring him satisfaction and joy even if it doesn’t come with an overflowing abundance of material possessions. The song of a warrior surrounded by enemies who still chooses to lie down and sleep peacefully, trusting that God will keep Him safe.

When I recognized this, I had a powerful perspective shift about sleep as I began to see it as an active act of trust and worship. David choosing to sleep in the midst of his enemies was powerful. He closed his eyes, let his guard down, actively chose the most vulnerable position possible because he had complete faith in God. He know God was keeping watch. He know God would keep Him safe. He trusted this enough to take action on it. And sleep.

I can choose to sleep in the midst of my chaos. When life feels out of control and all I want to do is organize and make lists and force it back into a shape that I’m in charge of, I can let it go and take my rest. When my whirling thoughts are trying to remind me of all the things I need to do tomorrow that I haven’t written down yet and will probably forget, I can trust that God will remind me of the important things and it’s ok if one or two of the other things get missed. To choose sleep when my brain is screaming at me that I need to fix things NOW is, for me, a profound act of trust and worship. It’s me saying to God, “I trust you with my now and I trust you with my tomorrow. I know you have my best interest and you have my hand. I know that you care about the people in my life more than I ever could and will ensure that they’re taken care of even if I forget.” So, dear friend, when you catch yourself organizing and list-making and setting up reminders on your phone, take a deep breath, give it to God, and “in peace…lie down and sleep.”

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