Thinking Out Loud

August 30, 2012

Having Trouble Sleeping?

zzzzzzzzzzz — Oh! Are we on?

I believe that the Bible can inform many more areas of life than we give it credit for. And I believe that a big problem many people face but don’t talk about has to do with their sleep life: insomnia, sleep deprivation, etc.

So I was intrigued when Dr. Charles Page asked me about doing a guest post here. At first, I thought he’d do something similar to what’s on his blog — a scriptural study on sleep — which we could run as a Bible study at C201. But then I looked at what he sent me, and decided the issue needs to be raised among a greater audience.  So if this issue touches you read this, or if involves someone you know, send them here today to get the discussion started.

Surrendered Sleep

Living in this nanosecond digital world that never seems to slow down can leave your head spinning. Who has time for sleep? If you snooze – you lose.

Emerging out of our 24/7 lifestyle are issues with sleep and rest that could not even be conceived of in past generations: air traffic controllers falling to sleep on the job, exhausted health care workers having more complications, drivers having accidents falling to sleep at the wheel, sleep disorders reaching epidemic levels. Remember Michael Jackson?

What’s the answer? Sleep Medicine? A new mattress? Sleeping Pills? Herbal remedies? Cognitive Behavioral Therapy? Polyphasic Sleep? A new internet fad for insomnia? Two cans of Red Bull for breakfast?

Revisiting the truths of God’s word gives us insight to many of these complicated issues involving sleep and rest. I present to you no formulas but rather a Christ centered focus and a biblical framework for making sense of what is becoming one of the biggest issues of our day. As we explore the scriptures several attitudes surface:

A Calm heart:

Jesus modeled the perfect balance between activity and rest. Trusting calmly in the protection and provision of His Father, Jesus slept peacefully in the bow of a ship in a raging tempest. Having the Spirit of Christ within we who believe can rest in the peaceful assurance that God has our back–no matter what storms come our way. Like Jesus, His followers should never lose sleep over worry, fear, loneliness, anxiety, relational tensions or tasks left undone. Based on His unmerited favor, God does for us what we cannot do for ourselves as we sleep, providing for our needs and protecting us from harm’s way.

A Responsive Heart and a Servant’s Heart:

On the flip side, our Lord’s eyes never closed in the garden of Gethsemane. Surrendering to a greater purpose, Jesus prayed and prepared for the suffering of the cross. We typically think that the best way to prepare for a challenging day is to get as much sleep as possible. Ironically, the Lord acted in the reverse. Discipleship sometimes calls for sleeplessness to fulfill God’s purposes and plans for our lives–and the lives of others. It may be as simple as rising early in the morning to listen for God’s leading and prepare for the day.

Have you ever awakened in the still of the night for some unknown reason? Perhaps it’s just some undigested Pizza? Or perhaps—it’s the Lord of the universe waking you up to pray for an unknown trial on the horizon, waking you to serve or a brother in need.

When God calls his followers to give up rest, He also supplies them with mercies that are new every morning. The yoke of exhaustion is easy and the burden of sleeplessness is light when we consider that the Lord is working in and through our lives.

An Enduring Heart:

Sometimes there are no answers for why we suffer with sleep–incurable sleep disorders, the pain of chronic diseases–those “ten thousand sleepless nights” mentioned in a popular song. Perhaps suffering with sleeplessness truly is a blessing in disguise. God’s grace is made perfect in our weakness. However, believers can victoriously endure understanding that heaven is just around the corner. Sleep will no doubt be much lower on our priority list as we experience the eternal presence of Jesus with incorruptible bodies, worshiping in the presence of the saints and the angels. Forget sleep! So whatever sleeplessness believers endure in this world pales in comparison to the glory that shall be revealed when we arrive at our final destination. Insomnia may be a reminder that we are truly not home yet.

It’s all about surrender. As we diligently seek God’s kingdom, prioritizing Him first, He has promised to supply all these things–in our sleep or in our sleeplessness. Surrender your sleep to the One whose eyes never close. All praise to Him–our best thought by day or by night. Waking or sleeping–may his presence be your light.

Dr. Charles Page is a surgeon, author and father of five who enjoys watching sunsets with his wife Joanna in their Texas sized tree house. For a free download of an overview of the spiritual principles of sleep, check out the Surrendered Sleep blog at

http://surrenderedsleep.blogspot.com/

July 28, 2011

The Glass is Half Full: Upside by Bradley Wright, PhD

I have to admit it’s getting better,
A little better all the time
~The Beatles

Last year, Bradley Wright’s Christians are Hate-Filled Hypocrites and Other Lies You’ve Been Taught was seen as an appropriate rebuttal to David Kinnaman’s unChristian.  Two different approaches to the faith life of Americans; two different approaches; and often two very different sets of data.  I reviewed Wright’s first book in two parts, here and here.

This summer, Wright is back with the second in his series of The-Sky-Is-Not-Falling books, Upside: Surprising Good News About The State of Our World, also published by Bethany House. 

“Is there another period in history when people were better off? I don’t see one.” (p. 205)

But is there an upside to everything in Upside? When discussing things like the number of Americans incarcerated in state and federal prisons or the obesity epidemic in the U.S., Wright takes a realistic, honest and balanced approach to the data.   This is a not an author who is euphoric about everything but one who feels another voice needs to be added to the dominantly pessimistic mix.

For this reader, there are two rather disappointing aspects to the book.  First of all Upside is very Ameri-centric.  In an increasingly global world, this is a book about U.S. life written for a U.S. audience.  Yes, it does mention my own country, Canada, a half dozen or so times, but most of the U.S. data comparisons are made to other countries.  It was easy to feel left out. 

Second, this is a very “secular” social science analysis.  Whereas …Hate Filled Hypocrites… dealt with faith, belief, church and religion issues, this book does not, though it is written in the same style with extensive graphs and charts.  To make the book more relevant to a Christian audience, Wright inserts a number of sidebar articles called “Christians making a difference” which illustrate the way in which the Church of Jesus Christ is informing the issues dealt here — finances, education, health, quality of life, crime, war, marriage, family and the environment — but readers may not find themselves engaged on the topics of Wright’s sophomore title as they were the first time around.

Still it’s nice to know the sky isn’t falling.  At least not today.  And the final chapter’s title, “The Counting of Blessings” really puts things in perspective.

A copy of  Updside was provided to Thinking Out Loud by Bethany House via its Canadian distributor, David C. Cook Canada.

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