Published January 22, 2019
How have you been sleeping lately? Has something been racing through your mind, keeping you awake at night? Yeah, me too.
Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." He urges his followers, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" (Matthew 11:28-29). So, the results of a recent survey really shouldn't surprise us.
Religion News Service reported this past week that a study in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion found that a strong faith could be the key to a good night's sleep. Researchers maintain, "(T)hose who believe in salvation and feel they have an unshakable relationship with God tend to sleep longer, fall asleep faster and feel more rested in the morning."
The study's co-author, Terrence Hill, a sociology professor at the University of Arizona, explains, "If you believe a higher power is out there looking out for you, then what you're going through now is temporary." Those beliefs, he asserts, help one feel less stress by giving a sense of hope and reducing sadness, and therefore people sleep better.
Turns out, religion also may help by bringing people together who share common beliefs on a regular basis, which builds solidarity, a shared sense of purpose, and improves coping skills. "For all these reasons, it is plausible that regular churchgoers may experience less agitation in the wake of negative life events, and, ultimately, better quality sleep," the report suggests.
So, how's that working for you? Much to our regret, we have to admit that worry plagues even the best of Christians, doesn't it?
David Jeremiah, in his book "Slaying the Giants in Your Life," writes, "Worry divides the mind and multiplies misery. It subtracts from our happiness. But it never adds."
He tells a story about a friend's brother who kept a little white mouse that would climb inside a wheel and run, spinning it around and around. "It's as if he wakes up and says, 'Must get on the wheel! Must keep running!'" the man said. The average mouse, Jeremiah adds, will run nine thousand miles on such a wheel during its lifetime, "and he's still inside the cage."
Jeremiah observes, "That's the way it is with worry, a lifetime of frantic running with no destination. After a while you run out of the strength God gave you, and you're still in the cage." Indeed, worry keeps us spinning our wheels and taxes our spirits. Worry is ineffective, illogical and irrational, Jeremiah asserts. Even worse, it's irreligious, for it reveals our wavering faith, our lack of trust.
After all, Jesus reassures us, ""I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33)
Still, it's sometimes difficult to follow Jesus' advice. We worry. We fret. Anxiety gets the best of us … especially in the wee hours. And, if honest, I'm preaching to myself as much here. Life's circumstances have a way of wearing thin our faith at times.
We're prone to try to think things through, and we go to great lengths in attempting to work things out ourselves. Most of the time, it's to no avail. Time and again, though, in God's perfect timing, the testimony of the psalmist proves true: "I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears" (Psalms 34:4).
In today's vernacular, he's saying, "No worries. God's got this!" And, we'd save ourselves a lot of tossing and turning at night, if we'd only heed wise counsel, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." I'd much rather an all-mighty God guide my way than to rely on my own faulty plans and devices. How about you?
So, whatever fears you're facing, find comfort in the lyrics of "His eye is on the Sparrow" as your witness to a stress-filled world: "Let not your heart be troubled; these tender words I hear; And resting on his goodness I lose my doubts and fears; For by the path He leadeth but one step I may see; His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me. His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me."
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