The holiday break is officially over. You may now return your sleep schedules to the upright position.
If you spent the break with school-aged kids in your house, you probably watched the family sleep routine behaving like a deranged reindeer all hopped up on eggnog. Take the euphoria of no school, add the joy of holiday travel, mix in some influenza A, and there is no getting around it: you’re losing sleep.
We all know it’s not good.
Hey, vacation is a good thing. But too much of it can wreck your sleep, and we all know what happens when that happens. Bad moods. Poor health. Science and our own life experiences back it up. No big news here.
Or, is there?
German theologian Helmut Thielicke wrote, “Our theology limps behind what our faith already knows or at least senses…” What’s true of our theology is often true of our neurology. We’ve always known, or at least sensed, that sleep is a good thing. But in the last few decades, neurology has given us hundreds of reasons why it’s a good thing.
I’m thankful for these findings — and those that will come in the future — because they confirm the wisdom of a creator who knows how to wire a brain. Sleep studies have revealed much about how our bodies work. Bible studies are even more helpful, even if they don’t make headlines.
“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)
Here in a song of ancient Israel is a nugget of truth that has been affirmed through the centuries: sleep is good for you. We all know that, even if we don’t always put it into practice. The real headline is that sleep is good for you … because God made it that way.
The creator of the human body wrote promises about how the human body works best? Who knew?
That’s why it’s “vain” — a waste of energy — to go against the programming God coded into our DNA. Sleep is a built in reminder that we can’t do everything on our own strength. Even the strongest, smartest, most accomplished humans have to sleep.
You’d think with all our advancements and studies, we’d figure out a way to live and thrive without the nightly inconvenience of sleep.
Hasn’t happened yet.
So, you can either hate sleep and fight it, or you can receive it as a gift; sort of like how we can respond to God. To have faith, we have to trust that God is in control.
That doesn’t mean having faith is a scientific slumber party or that the Psalms are soporific songs to make your brain go nighty-night. On the contrary, faith is soundly grounded in fact, like the fact that we need sleep. Is it really such a leap of ignorance to believe we’ve been designed that way?
And, if God is able to create such intricate design, might He also be able to watch over our lives, whether we’re waking or sleeping?
“He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” (Psalm 121:1-4)
Rest easy. Even when it seems as if God is hitting a celestial snooze button, He’s actually wide awake.
— Gregg Madsen is the Lead Pastor of Steadfast Gretna. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.