“Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak.” (Psalm 77:4)
The seventy-seventh psalm is amazing. Should you be having any trouble sleeping at night, you might turn down the brightness on your phone and take it in (the psalm, that is). Penned by Asaph, it’s twenty verses long (Count 'em like sheep!) and tells the story of someone who cannot seem to find a comfortable position.
“I remembered God, and was troubled…” (verse 3a)
Why is this? Assuming you believe in Jesus Christ and have the barest of recognition for the things that are yours by virtue of being a child of God, what in the world would cause that kind of emotional or psychospiritual response? You search your heart. Or as Asaph expresses in verse six: “I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search.” One of life’s burning conundrums, I think, is this ever-present apprehension that we are more complex than we can fully understand. Dear God! I cannot even figure myself out! There is more than a little temptation for despondency and despair in seeing this realization incorrectly.
“Will the Lord cast off for ever? And will He be favourable no more?” (Verse 7)
Impossible. But since having realized this, it has become just one more of those things keeping you up. You look at your clock and toss and turn a little more. Comfort eluding you and perhaps now you’re wondering, should you throw off the cover(s), if it would be a tincture more comfortable. Not really. You’re resigned to stay awake. All night, you think, and even for the rest of your life. It’s dark and still and whether or not someone sleeps soundly next to you, there is surely a whole city outside the walls of your room that is more or less getting some rest. Why is their life working out and then why is whatever aspect of mine not? God knows. Resignation. All of your idiosyncrasies and peccadilloes and quirks are coming to light. God still knows.
“And I said, This is my infirmity…” (Verse 10a)
And He loves you. Did you know that the Lord is awake with you? He never sleeps. He watches over us and strokes our cheek. He might even try and smooth down your hair but I don’t think He has any reason to be concerned about that at this hour. All of those things on your heart? He wants to hear. Start telling them to Him one by one. There may be dissonance in your heart and mind but I can assure you, where He is (the same place you are by virtue of being a “Christian; see Ephesians 2:6) is perfectly still. Quiet and peaceful—albeit brighter than would allow for sound sleep. Okay, perhaps it’s not quiet (angels and all that). But you wouldn’t want to hear any of that now anyway. You turn over and yawn.
“…but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High. I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember Thy wonders of old. I will meditate also of all Thy work, and talk of Thy doings.” (Verse 10b-12)
Talk to whom? Everyone else is asleep. Notice: Asaph is now speaking to the Lord. He has brought God into his insomnia and also changed the tenor and tone of his lament. Worry has been replaced with wonder; agony with awe. His memory is now infused with the greatest of bedtime stories. Surely His rest can’t be far behind.
“Thou art the God that doest wonders: Thou hast declared Thy strength among the people.” (Verse 14)
Think on those things. The Holy Spirit will suffuse into your consciousness and give you the peace that nothing else you thought of prior had allowed. Before you nod off, however, take some time and dredge up a few things He’s done for you of late. For me, the simpler the blessing the better. Some of the most important and beautiful things He does for us are often the things that slip by unnoticed or that are not thought about at all anymore. Things like salvation and a good night’s rest. Breath. God bless you.
“Thy way is in the sea, and Thy path in the great waters, and Thy footsteps are not known.” (Verse 19)
There’s always a good reason why you can’t sleep, even if you think you know what it is.