February 15, 2008
While You Were Sleeping
“I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8 (NIV)
Do you ever lie in bed at night worrying about things that are completely out of your control? I do.
Recently I was reading the story of Peter being set free from prison by the angel and it encouraged me to get some sleep and let God take care of my concerns. Acts 12:6 tells us, “The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance.”
Peter was facing a public trial with a known enemy of the cause of Christ. He was chained between two guards—not the most comfortable sleeping position. And instead of scheming how he could be like Jack Bauer and bust out of prison and get past the guards, he was sleeping soundly. Though he certainly knew the dire situation he was in, Peter did not lie awake stressing and worrying, wringing his hands and strategizing. Instead, he got comfortable and went to sleep. How?
There are two answers to this question. First, the preceding verse in Acts tells us, “So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him” (Acts 12:5). Peter knew that his brothers and sisters were interceding on his behalf. He could rest peacefully knowing that he was being lifted before the Lord, even while he was sleeping. Second, Peter had Jesus’ promise in John 21:18 that he would live to be an old man. While Jesus had prophesied that he would be martyred, he knew that it would not be until he was old. And so, he knew that—though the circumstances looked grim—God would make a way out of this situation. He simply took Jesus at his word, and it brought him much peace. Peter gave new meaning to resting in God’s promises!
This was a great lesson for me. I thought of all the nights I laid awake worrying over situations in my life. As I stressed and agonized, tossed and turned, I forgot the promises I’d been given. Instead of resting in God’s promises, I wrestled my problems away from Him and tried to solve them on my own. I schemed and strategized, plotted and worried. I lost sleep when God wanted me to let Him handle the problems His way and experience His peace in the process. I could have asked others to pray for me, allowing them to experience the victory of praying someone through something.
In Peter’s story, the believers who prayed for him can hardly believe how God answered what seemed like an impossible prayer request. They got to share in that outcome and hang onto that demonstration of God’s miraculous provision for the rest of their time on earth. Peter gave them an opportunity to build their faith.
While Peter was sleeping, God was at work. He had it all under control. From our earthly perspective, it is hard to see that sometimes. It is even harder to trust God when life seems to spin out of control and circumstances appear grim. I learned I can’t gain another hour by worrying, and I can’t solve anything by losing sleep. The next time my problems seem larger than life I’m going to ask others to pray for me, give God the situation in prayer, read some of His promises in His word, and then I am going to go take a nap. God can do great and mighty things while we are sleeping!
Dear Lord, You can handle all my problems. You already know the outcome and You have not forgotten me. You will care for me and You will fight for me, even when I am unaware. Thank You Lord for granting me peaceful sleep in the middle of life’s storms. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Visit Marybeth’s blog Cheaper By the Half Dozen
“Becoming a Woman of Influence” message on CD by Marybeth Whalen
Escaping the Stress Trap by Mary Southerland
Make a list of promises that God has given you so you can cling to them and find rest in times of trouble. Keep an ongoing list as you hear God speaking to you or as He shows you through the reading of His word.
What do you normally do instead of sleep when life gets hard? (Eat, pace, cry, bite your nails, etc.) Write down what you do and then draw an X through those things. Then write down today’s verse. The next time you are worrying and losing sleep over something, remember this verse.
Deuteronomy 3:22, “Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.” (NIV)
Proverbs 19:23, “The fear of the Lord leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble.” (NIV)
Psalm 127:2, “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.” (NIV)
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G, Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Friday, 15 February 2008.