“I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.”
I remember the exact week on the calendar when my third baby finally started sleeping through the night (hello 9 months!) While I had coveted the long awaited rest of a full night’s sleep, I was completely unprepared for the sleep insomnia my body began to experience. One night turned into two, two into four, and soon a week turned into weeks on end. The season I had so desperately looked forward to, was not the one I found myself standing in.
It was during that summer when I forced myself to repeat the promises of the psalms. “I will lay down and sleep, I will wake again, for it is the Lord who will sustain me.” I forced myself to pray for others until eventually my mind and body gave way into a few hours of rest.
“The same God who sustains us in our sleep, sustains us in our difficulties.” Most of us may never walk through the dark valley of sleep insomnia. But at some point each of us will find ourselves standing in a life season that looks different than what we had planned. It is in these moments when we must ask ourselves the question, “Do I believe God will sustain me even in this?”
Romans 8:31 says, “If God is for us, who can be successful against us?” Not sleep insomnia, not miscarriage, not infertility, not delayed plans, not the loss of a family member, not divorce, not singleness, not cancer, not the loss of a job, can separate us from the love of Christ. No, even in the face of death itself we can stand confidently and say, “With God, we will gain victory.” (Psalm 60:12)
Many people have asked me what I found to cure my sleep insomnia. My short answer is nothing. There was no product I used, habit I formed, or perfect environment I created to “beat insomnia.” As quickly as it happened to me, a few months later it seemed to disappear. Over the last year I’ve continued to struggle with it off and on with no medical answers.
One gift that was really helpful to me during this time was Every Moment Holy. This book, which is a compilation of beautiful liturgies, contains prayers for different hours of the day, areas of labor and vocation, creation and recreation, blessing and celebration, petition and provision, sorrow and lament, and even table blessings. I often use this book after reading a psalm in the morning by choosing a liturgy to read, meditate on, and write down parts of the prayer that were significant in my journal.
Every Moment Holy
As difficult as my journey has been, I can face the unknowns of insomnia with confidence that God will provide me just enough strength and energy I need to face today. I need not fear tomorrow, I need not fear tonight. He has met me in the darkest waters, and has made even these moments holy.
Lead me by your mercies through these hours,
that I might spend them well,
not in harried pursuit of my own agendas, but
rather in good service to you.
teach me to shepherd the small duties
of this day with great love,
tending faithfully to those tasks
you place within my care
and tending with patience and kindness
the needs and hearts of those people you place within my reach.
(Every Moment Holy | Excerpt from A Liturgy for First Waking)