I often comment that I wish I could get back all those naps I fought against as a child. When given the opportunity to sleep, I caused my mother countless hours of angst. That seems wasteful now. Contemplating the opportunity to sleep for ten hours seems like a luxury, but one that babies and children seem to treat as punishment. Psalm 127:2 indicates that sleep is a gift from God to His beloved. Yet, customarily we argue over or refuse this gift when young, and try to “cheat” it when we are older.
Think of all the ways that, as adults, we attempt to get around our need for sleep. Whether it is caffeine, stimulants, urgent projects that need finishing, or the 24/7 amusement opportunities that television and the internet provide, we convince ourselves that we can do without this “gift.” We pride ourselves on all we accomplish wearing our productivity as a badge of honor.
For those who experience insomnia (the inability to get to sleep or stay asleep), the effects of the lack of sleep are obvious. And for those who share a room with a person who snores, being awake in the wee hours of the morning is tortuous. Often artificial means are used to get around these situations, but they are usually accompanied by unpleasant side effects.
The psalmist tells us that getting up early or staying up late is a vain pursuit if we attempt to acquire the sustenance of our lives in our own strength. Maybe we should view the time we are ordained to sleep in the same way that we are to view our need for a weekly rest. God’s design is such that it cannot be improved upon. He never intended for us to direct our lives autonomously, failing to rely on His provision on a constant basis. So, the fact that after a day of activity we experience tiredness is not an unintended occurrence, but one that is ordained by our Creator.
The time we are asleep is a time when we must rely on God’s sovereign oversight in our lives; for, by its very nature, we cannot even pretend to be in control during sleep. While asleep, we are being sustained by Him who keeps us breathing, maintains our heartbeat, and resets our brains to be able to function when we arise. For us to be able to say with conviction, “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24), we must use the God-ordained means to be ready to see this truth and have it govern us as we pursue our dominion calling.
For parents of newborns, being awake in the wee hours of the morning is standard fare. For this reason, sleep during the day must take priority during this season of life. A mother who has other children who require supervision, feeding, and schooling will experience an eventual toll on her health and the operation of her family if she attempts to cheat her need for sleep and refreshing. This is where the greater Body of Christ is an invaluable resource, and a good reason why women should be available to assist other women in such times. It is here in the mundane aspects of life that true community is birthed.
We teach children to appreciate the food, clothing, and shelter that come when we seek first God’s Kingdom and His righteousness. We should add in our instruction an appreciation for God’s gift of sleep. Helping children understand that when they fight sleep, they are rejecting God’s gift and manifesting their rebellion against His order. As children grow into adulthood, this can become a matter of autonomous living if they fail to factor in God’s requirements and patterns.
As we pursue our dominion calling to disciple the nations, we will be better served to execute these duties without being weary.
Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. (Isa. 40:31)