I’m not sure exactly when it started, but along with all the other changes that teenage years bring, I also developed a chronic case of insomnia that has not let up over the last 15 or some odd years. At times it has been crippling and has generally made life much more difficult. I’ve been on (probably) every medication under the sun, seen many doctors about it, prayed, fasted, danced naked on the roof while speaking in tongues, flirted with the idea of sacrificing my firstborn, and plead with the Lord for this to be removed from me, yet He has answered my pleas with a consistent and firm “no.” I’ve questioned the Lord and doubted His wisdom regarding this issue many times, but dealing with this for so long has given me plenty of late nights to think about it.
When we sleep, we enter into a state where we are completely useless to the world, to God, to the mission, to the Kingdom. We go comatose for several hours, unable to do anything but consume time and oxygen. We are parasites, in a sense.
But how strange is it that our routine of devolving into this helpless state helps us emerge from it more able to actually accomplish, perform, engage, and serve? We consume in order that we may contribute, and if we don’t consume, we forfeit our opportunity to contribute. How strange that God has designed us this way.
Sleep is, then, a moment where God is constantly giving: protection, quiet, calm, air, perhaps even direction and guidance through dreams and visions. And it’s a moment where we are completely at His mercy. Each morning we wake up unable to boast in our ability to deteriorate into worthless shells of sand. Instead our morning posture should be one of thanks and gratitude to the One who has sustained us even in such a powerless state.
Sleep is a gift. It reminds us of our smallness, our weakness, our fragility; but each time our eyes open it is a sign of how loved we are. We are reminded of how sovereign He is, How powerful He is to preserve millions of incapacitated and dependent people (many who hate Him, even) in order that He may use us for a purpose greater than we could dream up.
I used to hate this thorn because of how it made me feel physically, but now I despise it because of what I know I’m missing out on spiritually. I know what sleep is intended to convey about myself and about God, and I believe all those things. But too often I’m deprived of the opportunity to experience what I know to be true.
One of these days, though, this anxiety, this chemical imbalance, this demon—whatever it is—it will be done away with. And there’s a part of me that hopes that maybe we’ll continue to sleep in heaven, if only so that I can have endless opportunities to say thank you.
But nevertheless, no matter how many opportunities I feel I’m missing out on now, I know that there are a million more that I get to get in on. And for now, eyes heavy, but mind and heart racing, I realize that I am awake to the reality of God’s goodness and wisdom in this ailment, and I can begin to thank Him for those million things.
Perhaps I’ll start by thanking Him for hope.