Raise your hand if you’ve ever had a sleepless night! If you’re human you will had to have raised your hand! We need sleep to live. Those in “the know” tell us we NEED 7-8 hours a night! Yeah, right! I’d LOVE that. You’re fortunate if you get close to that … and especially if you are a mom or a postmenopausal woman! (Sorry guys!)
There are several verses in the Word of God that promises sleep to His beloved (Ps. 127:2 – I’ve often asked Father in the night if I wasn’t “beloved” anymore!); that our sleep will be sweet, we will sleep in peace and that we won’t be afraid. But then WHY do we have sleepless nights? Why do our fears and worries (OK – concerns – I KNOW we are not supposed to worry!) seem bigger and larger than life at night?
Isaiah 26:9 – “With my soul I have desired (longed for) you in the night.” When we are awake and the nights seem long perhaps it is designed that we might desire time with Him without distractions!
- NIGHT TERRORS (sweats, nightmares and cries)
When you are “down under” a weight of concern, filled with worry, frightened or sick – it is WORSE during the night hours. You can manage during the day. You’re busy, things to do, places to go, people to see – but as night falls and the body requires rest, you go to bed to sleep and you can’t sleep. The mind goes into high gear and sleep eludes you. Fear is magnified, you think the worst and you can’t wait till sunlight.
I had a child that had night terrors. This child was never fearful during the day – always a joy to be around. For a period of time this child would wake up screaming in the night and have NO recollection in the mornings of what it took us to calm the child down.
It is the same when morning dawns after a bad night … we seldom understand just what it was that was keeping us up because in the light of day it never looks as bad.
Look at some night terrors …
A. Weeping nightsPs. 6:6 “I am weary with my groaning; all night I make my bed swim; I drench my couch with my tears”.
Been there – done that! Oh, I don’t want to think back on my weeping nights. I’ve had quite a few! Various problems but just the same the tears were there. Maybe I wasn’t “swimming” in my tears but I sure enough had a very wet pillow!
Lots of tears but I love this one … Ps. 30:5, “weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning”.
B. Struggling nights
Genesis 32:22-24, “… he, (Jacob) arose that night … then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him, until the breaking of the day.” Oh, Jacob had a long night! No sleep and involved in a wrestling match! Jacob knew he had a need; he was just plain scared of meeting up with his brother whom he knew he had treated badly. Now here as he wrestles with this “man” (believed to be an angel of the Lord) Jacob comes face to face with who he is (Jacob the deceiver), acknowledges and owns it and then God blesses him.
Who was Jacob? He was a “supplanter” – a deceiver. When he faced it, admitted it — THEN God blessed him.
Often our night struggles are times when God gets our attention! We see ourselves for who we are, admit our failures and cry out to God for His touch on our lives. When God touches us it changes our lives! Jacob had a limp from that day forward. Every time he took a step from then on he was reminded he belonged to God! He was dependent upon God. It didn’t stop him from walking but it probably slowed him down enough to remind him he was God’s. It didn’t make him perfect but was a reminder of Who he belonged to!
What’s your limp?
C. Grieving nights
We usually associate times of “grieving” with times of personal sorrow as when a loved one dies – and these times are valid. Sorrow and grief does often rob us of a good night’s sleep. However have you ever grieved over what grieves the heart of God? Sin grieves the heart of God and sin should grieve us too! Have you ever wept over your sins or the sins of others? Have you ever wept over the conditions of the lonely, the lost, the downtrodden, the heathen? Have you ever interceded for others through long hours of the night?
Look what the Lord said in I Samuel 15:10 & 11, “Now the word of the Lord came to Samuel, saying, ‘I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments.’ And it grieved Samuel, and he cried out to the Lord all night.”
Oh, it’s easy for us to be awake during the nights when it’s OUR troubles or our sorrows but do we really lay awake because of God’s concerns? Do we grieve over what grieves the heart of God?
D. Comfortless nights
Here is another of my “been there, done that” nights … Job 7:4, “When I go to bed I think, ‘Oh, that it were morning,’ and then I toss till dawn.” (TLB)
Perhaps this is more common among women than men but how many nights have you laid down to go to sleep – very tired – when as soon as your head touched the pillow the eyes pop open, the mind shifts into gear and sleep goes out the window! We either want to sleep or have it be morning! The night can be sooooo long and we can’t wait till morning.
And it wasn’t just Job! Even the psalmist Asaph experienced it … “In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing; my soul refused to be comforted” (Ps. 77:2) Yep! That’s been me! It was like I couldn’t “give it up”, I hung on to my problems and pain … I would NOT be comforted! But while Asaph is thinking on all his troubles he ALSO remembers his “song in the night” (v. 6).
So what do we do when we can’t sleep? Do we run for the bottle of sleeping pills? Alcohol? Television?
Ps. 91:5 “You shall not be afraid of the terror by night …”. A command to not be afraid? How can we stop being afraid? By making the Lord our “dwelling place” (v. 9) … that means living in His Presence, concentrating on Him, singing unto Him, memorizing His Word, meditating on Him.
- NIGHT MEDITATIONS (intercessions and petitions)
The night can be precious times of fellowship with Jesus. Ps. 4:4, “Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still.” (The Living Bible, “Lie quietly upon your bed in silent meditation.”) Ps. 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God”.
Ah, the problem is … being silent and being still! So how can we be still and have a quiet settled heart?
A. TRUST Him
Have confidence in Him. Nothing catches God by surprise. He knows our days and our thoughts. He knows what is ahead and He charts our path. We can trust in God and NOT be afraid! (Ps. 56:4)
One of my favorites and one that is fabulous to meditate on … Isaiah 26:3 & 4, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord forever; for in the Lord JEHOVAH is everlasting strength.” (KJV)
There is not time here to go into all the verses in God’s Word that assures us that we can TRUST in God – but we know that He is trustworthy!
B. MEDITATE on His Word
Meditation has gotten a bad name. Many today associate it with Yoga or eastern religions. We picture someone sitting cross-legged on the floor, palms outward, eyes closed and humming! But it is not that! It is SO much more.
What does it mean to “meditate”? To reflect, mutter, ponder. When the angel spoke to Mary the Bible tells us that she “pondered” these things in her heart – meaning that she thought about them, turned them over in her mind.
Ps. 63:6, “… I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.”(KJV) Joshua 1:8, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth; but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it.”
We can think of plenty of things to think about during the night watches but what we should do is meditate, think, ponder, and yes even mutter on God’s Word. That will bring peace!
Ps. 77:12, “I will also meditate on all Your work, and talk of your deeds.”
Ps. 119:147, “I rise before the dawning of the morning, and cry for help; I hope in Your word.”
Ps. 119:55, “I remember Your name in the night, O Lord…”
C. DESIRE Him
Is. 26:9, “With my soul I have desired You in the night, Yes, by my spirit within me I will seek You early;”
Do you love the Lord enough to stay up all night standing before the Lord? It’s HARD to stay up at night (unless of course you are sleepless!). Look at the exhortation to bless the Lord in Ps. 134.1, “Behold, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who by night stand in the house of the Lord”. I will admit that would be hard for me (I don’t like to stand very long!) but how blessed we would be!
D. PERSEVERE … in fellowship with Him Luke 6:12, “… continued all night in prayer to God.”!! That verse speaks for itself … spending all night in prayer!
- NIGHT INSTRUCTIONS
As we give our terrors and tears to Father, as we trust and meditate upon His Word – guidance WILL come! Our Father will give us instructions. It is wonderful to know that we don’t have to navigate this life on our own!
Ps. 16:7, “I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel; my heart also instructs me in the night seasons” Ps. 16:11, “You will show me the path of life…” Job 33:15-16, “In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, while slumbering on their beds, Then He opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction.”
Ps. 19:1 & 2, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech; and night unto night reveals knowledge.”
The WORD is God’s counsel to us. Often in the quietness of our hearts in the night, meditating on God’s Word, reading God’s Word, we can hear His still small voice.
The Lord called Gideon to be a deliverer for the Israelites. Gideon wasn’t sure of his calling and built an altar and it was “the same night” (Judges 6:25) that the Lord spoke to him.
Joel says, “your old men shall dream dreams” (with the pouring out of His Spirit). Most dreams come at night (yes, they can come during naps too!) and God can give instructions in dreams too! (Joel 2:28).
I foolishly thought when my “dark night of the soul” sleepless nights ended – I’d have no more. Wrong! That’s my only time now when I can be quite enough to hear God! He gets my attention in the night hours …. Husband is asleep, Television is off, Phone doesn’t ring, No radio, no stereo, no computer, And I can’t sleep! ☺
How often I’ve claimed the verse, “He gives His beloved sleep” (Psalms 127:2). Sometimes I can go to sleep … other times I get up!
- NIGHT SONGS
Night praise …Ps. 92:1 & 2, “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High: To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night”.
Job 35:10, “Where is God my maker, who giveth songs in the night…?” Even Elihu, one of “Job’s comforters” knew that God could give songs in the night! Here is another comforting verse which comes after the psalmist cries and pours out his tears to God, Ps. 42:8, “The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me …”
I think my favorite story of singing in the night is found in Acts 16. Paul and Silas were in jail. Their clothes had been torn off, they had been beaten with many stripes, to keep them “safe” the jailer threw them into the inner prison which probably meant NO light or movement of air and then put their feet in stocks (shackles). Hey, this is NOT fun!
So what did they do? What would YOU do? I would feel sorry for myself … “God, why?” “What have I done to deserve this?” “Why me?” “Where are You God when I need You?” Oh, I can be a real complainer! But Paul and Silas PRAYED and SANG PRAISES! Songs in the night! Can you beat that?! WOW! Singing with blood running down their backs, can’t move because their feet were bound. They were hot, stinky and hungry … but they prayed and sang!
God heard AND came to their rescue! I love it! There was an earthquake, all the doors opened, all the shackles were broken but NO ONE was hurt let alone killed! All because their focus was not on their pain but on God!
There is one final verse here that is a challenge to all of us … Ps. 149:5, “Let the saints be joyful in glory; let them sing aloud upon their beds.” !!! Well, maybe someone who slept alone wrote this! If you’re married it might be best to wake them up and let them know what you plan to do! ☺
I have gone to bed with worship music on and often I’m singing in my “head” along with the CD … maybe I need to “sing along” out loud! Remember the Word of God also says, “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). It is good to read aloud and sing aloud the Word of God — it brings FAITH!
- NIGHT DELIVERANCES
I believe we can all say when we are in our dark night of the soul that we long for deliverance. We want morning to come but our deliverance can also come IN the night hours … we don’t have to wait for the light of day.
David is fleeing from his son Absalom when he cries out to God about his many enemies and the many that have risen up against him. But immediately he states in Ps. 3 that God is a shield for him, God bestows glory on him and lifts up his head; that he cries out to God and God answers him and then he says in verse 5, “I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustained me.” With God watching out for me … why am I awake with worry? I can sleep because THE LORD SUSTAINS ME! Hello!!!!!!!
I like the verse in Exodus 12:42, “It is a night of solemn observance to the Lord for bringing them out of the land of Egypt …” He was protecting HIS children and bringing them out of bondage … and I believe that as a child of God I also can believe that He is keeping vigil over me in the night hours and bringing me out of whatever bondage or fear that I am encountering.
With the Lord watching out for us, what is our fear? He is our rear-guard as well as our front guard! He will not only watch over you but also that which belongs to you!
Plus the story from the “Night songs” fits here too! God delivered Paul and Silas in the night … and HE WILL deliver us when we keep our focus on Him.
Finally – all our nights will be gone! Revelation tells us that in heaven “there shall be no night there” (!) (21:25 & 22:5). No more night challenges, no more night fears, no more sleepless nights … for then we shall eternally be in the light of His presence!
I want to end with the chorus to “No More Night” by David Phelps …
No more night no more pain No more tears, never crying again And praises to the great, “I AM” We will live in the light of the risen Lamb.
All scripture unless noted is from NKJV.