These days, during times of racial and police reform, and a worldwide pandemic, many of us are troubled, finding it difficult to put our minds to bed, sleep evading us. We are trying to solve a problem, or figure out how our actions can help create healthy change. Our thoughts churn causing distress and our brains have little rest. Others of us are full of creative ideas and we just can’t turn them off. Even others of us just cannot get to sleep because we hurt – emotionally or physically. Pain cries out and has its way with us.
Personally, most nights, I shift and toss and turn, trying to get into a position where I’m not in physical pain. I have body wide muscle and nerve pain that never leaves me, day, or night. Sometimes, I can fall asleep with no trouble, but most nights I struggle, and it takes me hours to fall asleep. When I reach my end, my only comfort is to quote scripture or sing.
There is a reason why King Solomon in all his wisdom encouraged us to write God’s word on the tablet of our heart. To memorize it. Sometimes we don’t have access to a Bible, and sometimes we just need it that close, where it’s a part of us, and we can simply call to mind God’s words.
My son, do not forget my teaching,
but keep my commands in your heart,
for they will prolong your life many years
and bring you peace and prosperity.
Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.
Then you will win favor and a good name
in the sight of God and man.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones.
Keep my commands and you will live;
guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.
Bind them on your fingers;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,”
and to insight, “You are my relative.”
Sometimes, instead of quoting scripture, I quietly sing hymns with Mark, or sing, lifting my pain and hands to my God. Last midnight, while tossing and turning in pain, I tuned into YouTube and worshiped God with voices streaming from my phone app. Today I made a Midnight Worship playlist.
If you are having a difficult time sleeping, for any reason, join me in worshiping God during the midnight hours! It’s much better than panicking that we can’t get to sleep, or being angry. It also helps to take the focus off whatever we are ruminating about or trying to create at an ungodly hour. So, make it a Godly hour instead by keeping a hymnal near your bed, or making a playlist of songs to sing to God while you are wrestling to fall asleep. The deep breaths you take to sing may provide the stress relief and distraction your body needs.
On one occasion in the book of Acts, after Paul drove an evil spirit out of a woman, Paul and his friend Silas were brought before the magistrates who ordered they be stripped naked and beaten with rods. They were then severely flogged, thrown into prison, feet put in stocks. These men were in obvious distress and immense physical pain. They weren’t sleeping and began to pray and sing to God in spite of their suffering. Here is their account:
22The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”
29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household (Acts 16:22-34).
Maybe your sleepless nights won’t be this dramatic, but the peace and joy that come from praising God during your storm, expresses your love and trust in him, hopefully lulling you to sleep. The next time you can’t turn your mind or pain off, turn your voice on. Instead of worrying and counting sheep, sing!
Here are some of the songs on my new Midnight Worship playlist. Please add some of your favorite worship songs in the comments section below – I’d love to add them to my playlist! Enjoy these great songs!