Why is it that the middle of the night thoughts are always the worst? It seems to me that the cares and concerns of life gang up and all decide to visit when one cannot sleep. These are the fretful hours, the ones where minutes tick by like hours as you toss and turn on your bed.
“Do not fret—it only causes harm” (Psalm 37:8)
Oswald Chambers says, “Fretting means getting ourselves “out of joint” mentally or spiritually.” I find that to be an accurate description of what happens to me in those darkest hours of the night. It is all unintentional, of course! I wake and look at the clock and attempt to return to sleep but my mind quickly becomes busy. It is almost as though my mind is “selling me out” as it does not want to quiet itself so I can return to sleep. I find I am swiftly mentally out of joint.
Such is it with one who tends to worry and I can understand why the psalmist says it only causes harm! How many great solutions have been conceived in the darkest hours before dawn? How many problems have been solved, plans hatched, and difficulties resolved? I can only use my own life as an example, but I daresay, very few good things have come from these midnight mental wanderings.
These are the hours David wrote of in the Psalms when he spoke of being weary of sighing and crying and weeping (Psalm 6:6). However, a careful search of the Scriptures will also reveal other activities of these night hours. Walk with me through some of these verses as we see what God intends for these times when sleep takes a holiday.
…his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. Psalm 1:2
The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime; And His song will be with me in the night, A prayer to the God of my life. Psalm 42:8
Both of these verses remind us of the value and necessity in knowing the Word of God. The Word hidden in the heart brings comfort and peace to the soul of the sleepless. To be able to meditate on the riches of His Words in private, in secret, without phones jangling and people interrupting…is a rich blessing indeed.
Oh, but we need sleeeep! We wonder how we will function when the sun peeks over the horizon and the demands of the day loom large! Yes, I agree this is a challenge but not one that God is ignorant of. Look at what the psalmist says here:
O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water…
Is your life a dry and weary land where there is no water? Mine sure can be! Too many problems, and too much discouragement are a part of living here in our temporary home on earth. And isn’t it something that these are the things we choose to meditate on in the night? Isn’t it bad enough they are a part of the daylight hours? Must they be our night time companions as well? Our loving Father offers us another choice.
Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips will praise You. So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips. When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches, For You have been my help, And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me. Psalm 63:1-8
Do many (or any) of your thoughts amble in this direction when you are sleepless? What if this is how you chose to spend these midnight hours- earnestly seeking God rather than recounting your problems and sorrows. I say that these hours would quickly become a blessing and something to desire rather than the curse we often consider them to be.
Our focus is simply in the wrong place! These quiet hours when no one is around to distract us or deter us are a gift from God that we might use them to know Him and to glorify Him! We are to use them to recount our blessings rather than meditate on our trials. Determine to spend this time praising God for all He is doing in your life right now. Look at your life from His perspective! Make note of the things God begins to show you in these silent periods. Write them down and revisit them. These times are intentional dear friends; our loving God is not in error when sleep departs.
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