"Through Many A Sleepless Night"

I have never slept well.  Even as a kid I don’t think I can remember having an easy time getting to sleep or staying asleep.  Sometimes this can be a very discouraging problem.  There are so many things a person wants to accomplish, and it can be very difficult to do with little (or sometimes even zero) sleep.  It is physically, emotionally, and mentally draining.  I know I’ve written about this before, but I thought I’d remind myself of a section of scripture that has always helped me, and if you have struggles to sleep it might help you too.

One scripture that I tend to read every morning after a hard night’s sleep is found in 2Corinthians 11:23-29 where the apostle Paul boasts in his weaknesses and sufferings.  He describes being lashed by the Jews and beaten with rods.  He was stoned and he was shipwrecked.  He was “in danger from rivers, danger from robbers” and danger from all the different people groups who would have loved to have him killed.  Then we see in verse 23 that he was “in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.”   

This might seem strange to you but this comforts me in many ways.  One, it gives me comfort to know that the apostle Paul could relate to having many sleepless nights.  Again, it comforts me to see that he included this in a list of things that were absolutely horrible and frightening, yet he considered it a worthy enough trial to mention in this devastating list.  Sleeplessness is a difficult trial because it always happens in private and it is something many people cannot relate to.  Nevertheless it is as real for you as a broken limb or a lack of food.  Just the fact that Paul acknowledged this as a real trial helps me to not feel so pitiful that I feel it is such.

In another way, it humbles me.  I might struggle to sleep, but if I am hungry I can go to the fridge.  If I’m thirsty I can go to my sink.  If I’m cold I can get an extra blanket.  I do not have people searching for me so as to kill me, and I am not living with nearly the “daily pressure” (see verse 28) of anxiety for all the churches I have planted and all the evangelistic duty that Paul had.

It produces in me a right estimation of my sufferings.  Not overblown, but not disregarded.  And I think that is good.  It is similar to an experience I had the other night.  I had been groaning and complaining about not sleeping.  I thought I had better turn to the Lord in prayer rather than continue on.  As soon as I did it occurred to me that the same God who sees me in my bed and hears my complaining, is the same God who sees starving children, and people caught in the sex trade, and slavery, and every other horrific circumstance with which I cannot relate.  It’s not that God doesn’t sympathize with even the slightest need of mine.  Yet I can’t help but wonder how my complaining sounds to a God who sees the whole world all at once. 

Nevertheless, He cares.  More than I can even hope to imagine, He cares.   If he cares about the birds of the air and clothes the grass of the field, will He not care about me in my need, however small?  Of course He will.  Doesn’t His word instruct us to cast all of our anxieties on Him?  Why?  “Because He cares for you (1Peter 5:7).” 

Paul continues on about His weaknesses and writes about the thorn in His flesh, about which He pleaded with the Lord three times to take it from Him.  The Lord’s response to all of Paul’s suffering is also a tremendous encouragement, and at times a gentle rebuke to me.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power if made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore (says Paul) I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.  For when I am weak, then I am strong (2Corinthians 12:9-10).”

It might not be God’s will to remove your present suffering from you yet.  Maybe, not until eternity will you or I be delivered from whatever circumstances seem to plague us.  But we can know that whatever it might be, our Lord is faithful and His grace is sufficient in all of these things.  He is sovereign over our lives and we must gladly bow the knee to His will.  Could you or I be content, knowing that our loving Father is in control, with weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities?  Or would we resent our circumstances all of our lives?  If we will, and I speak to myself, trust Christ and be content with our lot, His strength and power will rest upon us in all of our weaknesses.  He will shine brighter than if we had every reason to be strong in ourselves.  Love the Lord Jesus, you His saints, and trust Him with your whole heart.

5 thoughts on “"Through Many A Sleepless Night"”

  1. Thanks Char…such encouragement in scripture. 2Tim 3:16. Not only is it the Inspired, Infallible, Authoritative, Complete Word of God, it is complete and powerful to change us. Heb 4:12,13 & Isaiah 55:11. Pastor preached on this today :) Hugs <3

  2. Thanks for that Char… I just had a conversation with an elder about these very same verses. I have chronic pain and suffer from sleep deprivation. I’ve come to terms with it, I’m ok, if this is what the Lord has for me at this time. My trouble is that my church, who is suppose to be a caring and loving organism, treats me like I should be able to overcome all my pain and continue on in my church duties as before my trauma. I physically cannot, I can’t. It’s impossible. What to do when the persecution is coming from the very people who are suppose to help carry your burden? I’m ready for home church… I’m so discouraged. Is this persecution from the Lord? Why does He allow it when we’re instructed to carry each other’s burdens? Why would He do that? He’s not cruel and I’m not suggesting that He is, but where am I to turn?

    1. I have compassion for all of you that go through any chronic pain and sleepless nights. I myself went through a period of time where I could not sleep at all. I’d lay awake night after night without sleep, get up and go to work all day long with all the other daily things in life, kids, activities etc, go to bed and do it all over again. And it is true Charlene, it is something private that you struggle with that no one else sees. That is why I feel it is so important to have compassion for people that struggle with this because we don’t really know what they go through unless we experience it ourselves. It is hard to imagine also what a God would think of our problems when yes he sees so much else in this world, all the things that you mentioned. I have also learned over years that all people are not the same and that we shouldn’t jump at the gun so quickly as to what we should expect of them, so Susan I don’t know you but I would think that you are the one that knows what and what you cannot do and I will pray for you that some of that will be lifted from you and people would be more compassionate and understanding. And Charlene, I will continue to pray for you also. Love you char

    2. Hey Susan! I remember talking with you about this a bit awhile ago. Sounds like things haven’t gotten much better huh? That is a rough situation. How’s the church in other areas? Do they have solid preaching and doctrine? I don’t think the church should be a place where you are getting persecuted. Church discipline is biblical when someone is sinning… but I don’t think that’s your situation. Have you considered trying a different church? I don’t want to say it like you should run away from all problems, or like you need to find the ‘perfect church’ but you should be somewhere that you feel loved and supported, especially in trials.

      The Lord has brought you into this season in your life, but the persecution is from people not from Him. He is in sovereign control of it, but the attitude of the people is likely not the attitude of the Lord. Does that make sense? It also doesn’t mean that you have to sit back and just take it… I have been in long seasons of trials and known it was the will of God for a time, but then a time came when I knew I had to leave. I wish I had more time to respond but I have been super busy, even now I’m writing this in a rush because I don’t want you to think I forgot about you! Anyways… turn to the Lord and pray for His will in this. I so wish I had more time to think about this and respond. Maybe soon. Let me know if you have thoughts. Love you and praying for you!

      Charlene

  3. Thanks for your kinds words Vicki and Char. I have settled down since that last comment, I shouldn’t write when I’m at the apex of a trial. Forgive me for complaining. The more I see myself in light of God’s Word the more I see how wretched I really am.

    God IS allowing this. All things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

    Charlene, I’m not sure what to do or where else to go. Their doctrine is solid. I’ve been praying about it for some time now.

    Thanks for your prayers.

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