"I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustained me," (Psalm 3:5).
In this Psalm, David was in a great deal of trouble. His son led what seemed to be a successful rebellion against him. Many of his previous friends and associates rebelled against him and joined the ranks of those who troubled him (2 Samuel 15:13.)
For David, sleep was a blessing because he was under such extreme pressure from the pain and circumstances of Absalom's rebellion that sleep might be impossible, but he slept. Waking for him was another blessing because many wondered if David would live to see a new day.
We take for granted how God sustains us in our sleep. But think about it: you are sleeping, unconscious, dead to the world, yet you breathe, your heart pumps, and your organs operate. The same God who sustains us when we close our eyes to sleep will sustain us in our difficulties. We should remember the importance of sleep when facing severe trouble. We must be refreshed and renewed physically and spiritually to deal with the challenges that trouble brings.
I read an article in a journal that cautioned against the overconfidence of trying to do without adequate sleep. We sleep between one and two hours less per night than people did 60 or so years ago, and it is devastatingly impacting every part of our lives. For example, sleep deficiency is linked with symptoms of brain tissue deficiency; infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced when we do not get enough sleep.
On the flip side, sleep improves split-second decision-making ability by 4.3%. Sleep permits the consolidation and storage of the day's memories. Some athletes have said sleep is as essential as diet and exercise.
Being tired because of the lack of sleep zaps your focus and can render you forgetful. Sleep loss produces a lack of concern, irritability, impatience, anger, and flattened responses. The chance of drowsy driving-related accidents triples when we fail to get six or more hours of sleep.
D.A. Carson said, "We are complex beings; our physical well-being is virtually tied to our spiritual well-being, mental outlook, relationship with others, and relationship with God. And sometimes, the godliest thing you can do in the universe is not pray all night but get a good night's sleep. I am not denying that there may be a place for praying all night; I am merely stating that spiritual discipline obligates you to get the sleep your body needs."
By sleeping, we relinquish control and remind ourselves that God does not need us, at least for the next few hours. When we close our eyes each night, we are saying, "I don't run the world, not even my own life."
Even the president of the United States has to get into his pajamas every night, effectively confessing that God does not need him and that there is a greater Superpower.
The psalmist connects sleep with trusting God (Ps 3:5-6; 4:8). Sleep is a test of trust; will we entrust ourselves and everything to God's care, or will we continue to worry and vex ourselves through hours of darkness?
One of the old hymns of the church drives home the point I am trying to make, "Why should I feel discouraged? Why should the shadows come? Why should my heart feel lonely and long for heaven and home? When Jesus is my portion. A constant friend is He. His eye is on the sparrow. And I know he watches me."
Rev. Chestine Sims Jr. of White Hall is the pastor of St. John AME Church at Pine Bluff. The community is invited to join the church for worship in person and on Facebook live at 11 a.m. on Sunday.
Editor's note: Pastors, ministers or other writers interested in writing for this section may submit articles for consideration to [email protected]. Please include your phone number and the name and location of your church or ministry. Writers should have a connection to Southeast Arkansas.