I Can’t Sleep: A Theology of Insomnia

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 “My son, let them not vanish from your sight; Keep sound wisdom and discretion, 22 So they will be life to your soul And adornment to your neck. 23 Then you will walk in your way securely And your foot will not stumble. 24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid; When you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. 25 Do not be afraid of sudden fear Nor of the onslaught of the wicked when it comes; 26 For the LORD will be your confidence And will keep your foot from being caught.” (Proverbs 3:21-26)

Outline:

  1. The Call to Guard Wisdom (v. 21)
  2. The Benefits of Guarding Wisdom (vv. 22-26)
    a. Abundance in Life (v. 22)
    b. Security in Life (v. 23)
    c. Security in Sleep (v. 24)
    d. Security in God (vv. 25-26)

You may know someone who struggles with sleep depravation. Or, you yourself might be someone who cannot sleep at night. With such a fast-paced and stressful society, it is no wonder why insomnia plagues many American. People lose sleep over the stress over the worries of life, over their kids, their health, their future, their finances, and their relationships.

And sleep experts have attempted to solve this issue of insomnia. So it has been suggested to sleep consistently, to have a healthier diet, to exercise regularly, to stay away from mobile devices before bed.

While I recommend all these things and see their benefit, what happens when doing these things do not take away the insomnia? What if my worries and anxiety continue to pester me and keep me awake at night? I can jog five miles and eat broccoli, but that still won’t take away my problems.

And this is so true. As Christians, we need to remember that every problem we face needs a biblical solution. And the Bible answers more of our questions than we think. For this issue of sleep, the Bible gives more than enough help for us, specifically in the book of Proverbs Chapter 3.

In verses 21-26, Solomon gives several reasons why it will benefit God’s people to guard God’s wisdom in their lives. One of those major benefits is living a life filled with security in God. Wisdom that is guarded will in turn guard the believer in the most trying times of his life.

Insomnia and difficulty sleeping is typically caused by worry and anxiety over the future. Solomon knew that the troubles of life can keep even the most mature child of God awake at night. He reminds his son that the cure to such a problem is to always be in the company of wisdom (vv. 21-23).

This fear that plagues so many people will be removed by wisdom (v. 24). Believers can sleep without fear knowing God is caring for them. It is not only a sleep without fear, but it is a “sweet” sleep that is considered “sweet.” A good nights rest is with those who rest in God’s wisdom.

The Psalms address this issue of insomnia as well. There are many threats of terror at night (Psalm 91:5). To be asleep is to be in the most vulnerable of situations. People are more likely to fear oncoming trouble while they are asleep. David in Psalms 3 and 4 encountered many troubles and fears, especially physical threats upon his life. Yet despite his worries and concerns, he gives two examples of sweet sleep: (1) recounting his peaceful rest due to the Lord’s sustenance (Psalm 3:5), (2) declaring how he will sleep in the future because of God’s protection (Psalm 4:8).

Sweet sleep is the fruit of faith in God and of wisdom (cf. Jer 31:26; Prov 6:22; 19:23). It is free of real dangers and/or nightmares (Job 7:13-15; Ps 91:5; 127:2). And one could say that your sleep is tied to what you believe about God. Quality of sleep says much about your relationship with God. Restless Christians are spiritually restless. Christians who sleep peacefully, have a healthy peace with God and trust Him in their troubles. We can all measure our personal maturity as believers by our sleeping patterns.

Some are restless because of their sin. The book of Proverbs addresses the foolish and the wicked who are such addicts to sin that they cannot even sleep unless they do evil (Prov 4:16). Those who idolize money work into the late hours of the night sacrificing sleep because of their insatiable appetite for riches (Ecc 5:12).

Verses 23 and 24 are bound by a poetic device that displays the motion of walking and lying down. It binds the two verses together signifying how wisdom brings security at all times and in all situations. And Solomon ends with a confident tone (vv. 25-26). Terror is for the wicked, but security lies with the Lord. The Lord will be at the believer’s side at the time of distress and calamity.

Eventually, man’s own efforts and his thoughts will run out, and he will be left without any ideas on how to proceed. But God’s wisdom is sure, steady, and perfect. And wisdom that puts its confidence in the Lord will never be disappointed, even in the difficult times.

Do you want to fight insomnia? Meditate on this truth in your bed: Rest in the security of God and His wisdom.

 

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