There are many reasons why people find themselves wide-awake in the middle of the night. For some it is a matter of routine—shift-work requires adjustment in their normal sleeping patterns. For others, it is an emergency reaction—a sick child, a flooding basement, or the shrill beep of a smoke detector in need of a battery replacement. Still others, frequently awaken in the night or simply have trouble sleeping altogether. For whatever reason, they simply have trouble shutting down their system. The body is tired, but the brain is going “full-speed ahead.”
What do you think about when you wake up in the middle of the night? David thought about God who had been his helper. He said, “When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches…” (Psalm 63:6). The impression you get from reading the Psalms is that David frequently found himself awake in the night. These times of quiet solitude became inviting opportunities for meditation and prayer. In a beautiful psalm extolling the value of trusting in the help of the Lord, David reminds us that the Lord “will not slumber…He will neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121:3-4). So, in what is often considered life’s most lonely hours, we are really not alone at all. In describing the inherent greatness of our God, David prayed, “Even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You” (Psalm 139:12).
While I feel compassion for those who frequently struggle to sleep at night, perhaps, an occasional moment of sleeplessness might be good for the soul. Somewhat reminiscent of what David wrote in the book of Psalms are the words of Isaiah who, in a song of trust, prayed, “At night my soul longs for you…” (Isaiah 26:9). There is something about a sleepless night that calls our hearts in a heavenly direction. Perhaps, what appears to be an aggravation, or at least an inconvenience, may actually be a hidden opportunity for spiritual growth. Yes, even a sleepless night can provide us with an opportunity for spiritual reflection and growth. If so, then it will have been worthwhile.