Theology of Sleep

Uncategorized // October 24, 2020 //

God’s Word continues to amaze me. The theology of God, of scripture, of sin, and many other aspects of Christianity are fascinating studies and incredibly applicable to daily life.

Until recently, I had never considered the theology of sleep, but Psalm 121:4 has, dare I say it, awakened me to a new perspective. The Psalm as a whole and the context of the fourth verse reminds us that God is always our protector; He doesn’t take a break from sustaining or protecting us. It states that God, our Protector, “does not slumber or sleep”.

Ok, we all knew that, but I never thought much past the obvious nature of God not slumbering or sleeping. The Psalmist isn’t just stating the obvious. By presenting this fact, it draws a contrast with major implications. God, being all powerful, does not need to rest. He does not need to be refreshed or to take a break from His work. He, and He alone, is truly awesome.

But we are not. I am not. I need rest, I need sleep, I need a break. God gives us the blessing of sleep while He stands as Protector over us. Sleep is God’s gift to us.

I never thought about sleep as a gift. I really never thought about sleep much at all unless I was in need of it. I suppose I considered it more as something that God tolerated because I am weak. I certainly enjoy a good nap, but I probably considered that more of a guilty pleasure.

The fact of the matter is that each and every time we go to sleep, we are demonstrating our dependency on our sovereign, all knowing, all powerful Lord. Sleep is actively bearing witness to our confidence and reliance on His care. Sleep is conceptually akin to fasting insomuch as fasting reminds us that we are totally insufficient on our own. Sleep reminds us that we are not all powerful and that we must look to another for what we need. We must look to God and give Him all credit.

C.J. Mahaney, in his book Humility (which I highly recommend and is the conceptual catalyst for the thoughts here), suggests a few disciplines that reinforce this perspective. At the end of each day:

  • Give God the credit, the glory, for the day filled with grace which you had the opportunity to experience.
  • Recall that you are not the “author” of your life, nor the gifts you receive, or the success you experience.
  • Accept God’s gift of sleep, remembering its purpose and thanking your Protector as you do.
  • Consider sleep as a reminder of God’s love, protection, and grace.
  • Treat sleep as an act of faith, resting in the arms of the One sustaining you.
  • Reflect on sleep as a teacher instructing us to be humble and to put away pride.

When you lay down tonight, receive God’s gift and remember that He never slumbers or sleeps. He is our protector, and in Him, we can have complete trust. We are to live our lives completely in awe of Him and His power, acknowledging our dependency and taking comfort in His sovereign provision.

Sleep well, my friend.

About Jimmy Newkirk