(“Don’t count sheep; talk to the Shepherd!”)
Used with Permission by, Linda DeSilva
Sleeplessness is a problem for many people. On the very rare occasions when I can’t sleep, I pray for insomniacs known to me. The hands (or digits) on the clock move almost imperceptibly; pain continues for sleepless sufferers; the long night seems endless. Today, hospitals have sleep clinics; medical professionals specialize in this field; while pharmaceutical companies produce pills, powders and various devices. Some patients find relief; others continue to suffer.
Pain, worry, fear and guilt are just a few of the factors in sleeplessness. The good, the great, the weak, the weary, the wealthy; indeed, probably anyone can have a time when sleep eludes them. So, what does the Bible have to say about this very real and distressing problem?
First of all, sleeplessness is not always a bad thing. The Bible has many examples of sleep being withheld for a specific good purpose. Pharaoh’s distressing dreams, interpreted by Joseph, resulted in saving the lives of otherwise starving people; the boy, Samuel, wakened from sleep, to deliver a message to Eli, the High Priest; the Wise Men warned in a dream not to return to Herod; Joseph, the husband of Mary, awakened from a dream to take Mary and Jesus into Egypt.
David, in Psalm 139, writes of God’s full and complete knowledge (v. 1 – 6); His constant presence (v. 7 – 12); His creative power (v. 13 – 16); and God’s love and care (v. 17 & 18): “How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You.” (NKJV)
Asaph, another Psalmist, writes Psalm 77 from a troubled heart. He tells God his woes – and so may we. He writes: “You hold my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak.” (v.4) Then, Asaph gains courage as he remembers God’s powerful works in the past (See v. 10b – 20.) We can too!
David’s testimony (Psalm 23) in the midst of his enemies: “The Lord is MY Shepherd, I shall not want.” Is He YOURS?