Dreading Sleepless Nights
I had a tough night last night.
I’m sure you’ve probably had a similar night yourself. I was up at least three times during the night, just walking around the house. Going back to bed. Up again a couple of hours later. You’ve probably heard of Restless Legs Syndrome? While my legs were pretty restless, I don’t think that was my problem.
My restlessness was in my heart.
Reasons for Sleepless Nights
We’ve probably all had nights like that at one time or another. On the surface, the reasons may vary, but as you probe deeper, they reduce down to only a few. Then, as you continue to dig, it actually reduces to just one.
Doubt & Fear of the Future
Externally, the restlessness might be from fears about an uncertain future. You might have a big decision (or several) in front of you, with enormous ramifications for you or your family. There could be relational or family strife, failing health in a parent, or a child in rebellion or turmoil. You or a family member just got a really bad report back from the doctor, and the outlook is dire. You possibly just lost a job, or are afraid of losing one. You might have financial struggles. All of these issues can make the future seem very cloudy, and your illusions of control over your circumstances and future are crumbling before you.
Guilt Over Sin
You might be falling prey to the tyranny of guilt over sins that you’ve committed. You’ve damaged your family, screwed up your kids, disappointed your parents, or alienated your friends. You’ve squandered resources, wasted time, and blown chances. These sins replay themselves in your mind, and the guilt and remorse haunt you.
Experiencing Sorrow or Loss
You might be walking through the dark valley of pain and loss. A parent has died, and you can’t call or hug them anymore. A spouse has died, and the bed and house seems empty and out of balance no matter what changes you try to make. You’ve lost a child, and your dreams of growing old and seeing them follow behind you have been shattered. Or, you have gone (or are going) through the pain of divorce, which in several ways is worse than death—for the failure of the marriage continues to haunt you, no matter whose fault it was. Even if you weren’t the one who left, you replay all the movies in your mind, wondering what you could have done differently.
Where is God on Sleepless Nights?
But ultimately, these dark nights (and the long days that follow) come down to only one question that needs to be answered. Is God still there for me?
The feeling that pervades those restless nights is a combination of aloneness and doubt. These troubles and trials that beset us cause us to wonder if God’s promises are still true, or whether He has given up on us. We question His presence, His faithfulness, His love, or His grace. The very thought of this fills us with fear and insecurity. How do we combat those fears?
We combat our fears by remembering God’s Word. Jesus has said that He is the same, yesterday, today, and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8). We are promised that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ (Romans 8:31-39). Through the blood of Christ, He has fully and completely paid for all of our sins, and taken them as far away as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:10-12). And, he has promised that He will stay with us, and will never leave nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6).
We must not let our emotions be taken captive by outward circumstance, or the presence of trials. These difficult times, when not seen through spiritual eyes, are like the cloud over Mordor in The Lord of the Rings that had blocked out the sun and stars, so that Frodo and Sam could not see them. It didn’t mean that they weren’t there. The sun was shining the entire time, just as brightly as on the sunniest of days. It was merely being obscured by the clouds. This realization brought encouragement to them. Similarly, the realization of that same truth brought peace to me. Eventually, I was able to return to my bed, lay my head on my pillow, and sleep.
Our Lord has not promised that our lives will be without trouble. However, He has promised that He is with us in the midst of that trouble. In our self-doubt and indecision, He brings wisdom. In our pain and insecurity, He brings healing, ministering to our troubled souls as the Great Physician. When we are weighed down by sin, old or recent, He is there—extending forgiving grace for the broken and contrite heart. When we are burdened by loss or abandonment, He weeps with us, as Jesus wept with Mary and Martha. Then He whispers peace to us, and He assures us that He will never leave us—for we are His, and He is ours.
Sign up for Highlands Weekly to get links to all our best content in your inbox each weekend!