2022 Advent Devotional – Immanuel, God is With Us is Now Available on Kindle

WHAT TO DO WITH SLEEPLESS NIGHTS

My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast,
and my mouth praises you with joyful lips
when I think of you on my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.

Psalm 63:5-7

Are there nights you have a hard time sleeping? Perhaps you’re listening for a sick child, waiting for your teenager to come home, or worrying about tomorrow’s MRI results. Most of us know nights of tossing and turning, adjusting the pillow and trying to get back to sleep. Even Robert Frost penned a poignant poem titled “Acquainted with the Night”, in which he told of his sleepless nights.

Recently this prayer from the Book of Common Prayer gave new meaning to me for those nights I have difficulty sleeping:

Guide us waking O Lord, and guard us sleeping;
that awake we may watch with Christ,
and asleep we may rest in peace.

On those nights that I am not sleeping I like to think of Jesus watching with me in the night. In today’s scripture we see a sleepless David watching with God in the night. In this psalm David notes that he is hiding out in the Wilderness of Judah and yet he can say that his “soul is satisfied as with a rich feast” as he meditates on the Lord “in the watches of the night.” David’s dark and fearful night is transformed into midnight feast as he thinks upon the Lord as his Shepherd.

Roger Ekrich notes in his book, “At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past”, that in pre-industrial times and before Edison’s light bulb, people slept in two shifts. They called the two sleep shifts a “first sleep” (also called “beauty sleep”) and a “second sleep.” Instead of tossing and turning during the two sleep shifts people would pray and meditate. The night watches were valued as a time for inspiration and reflection on God and life.

Just before he went to bed Thomas Jefferson liked to read something meaningful “whereon to ruminate in the intervals of sleep.” I like to read a psalm or short scripture before I go to bed, as it gives me something special to meditate on when I cannot sleep. Then, like David, I find my soul “satisfied as with a rich feast,” even at midnight. Instead of counting sheep, why not talk to the Shepherd!

Guide us waking O Lord, and guard us sleeping;
that awake we may watch with Christ,
and asleep we may rest in peace.

A fellow traveler,
Tim

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