November 1, 2014

by Lisa Lessing, MA

When was the last time you slept through the night and woke up feeling refreshed and rested?  Or, are you one who echoes Job’s words: "When I lie down I say, 'When shall I arise?' But the night continues, and I am continually tossing until dawn.” (Job 7:4).   We all know that sometimes the night continues. And does it continue! Anxious thoughts stream like a news broadcast ticker tape keeping us from falling asleep. On other occasions, when sleep does come it doesn’t last long. We wake up later in the night and the ticker tape is still running.  Kids, aging parents, health, marriage, to-dos, friends near and far, the church, and our world all run together endlessly into words, sentences, and images of speculation and future-oriented thinking creating a host of “what ifs.”  What can quiet our anxious and wakeful minds during the night hours?  There are all the usual remedies–medical and homegrown–but let me remind you about our God who brings hope and peace.


Several years ago, I spent a few days at a friend’s cabin, miles from a small town. Light was confined to candles or oil-lights.  When those lights were extinguished, the dark was remarkably overwhelming. Darkness.  Anxious prayers. Sleeplessness. Wakefulness. “This is crazy, God.” And then the ticker tape of endless worries and anxieties flooded my mind.  A window without a curtain beside my bed drew my tired eyes to the sky.  There was no moon; but there were stars, millions of twinkling luminaries.  I was awed and stilled by this sight.  In fact, a wonderful peace covered me - like a warm blanket.  I lay there, in the pitch of night, star-gazing . . . and smiling. It was an extraordinary experience. “The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world” (Psalm 19: 1-4).  The stars ‘who made Him known’ was a reminder that “He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” (Ps. 121:4)


The night sky is wondrous.  The earth rotates and star constellations move deliberately and with purpose. God’s starry heavens reminded me that if He can control the universe, He has the strength and power to care about me. “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you (I Peter 5:7).” This thought delighted and calmed me. Drowsy and tired, I drifted off into sweet sleep.

Is the anxiety that drives your insomnia hounding you?  When you lie awake in the night and anxious thoughts roll, step outside or look out a window for these God-shaped night lights. The Milky Way is 104,000 light-years across and contains over 100 billion stars. To count them one by one would take a person over 3,000 years. Delight in them. They are gifts of God’s tenderness and care.   He created them all and calls each one by name. He remembers you and calls you by name, too. “Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.” (Isaiah 40:26).

Rest well.