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Sweet, Sustaining Sleep

Acts 12:6 And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.

We all know what it is like to have a disturbing night’s sleep. There is no pleasure in tossing and turning, plagued with worry when we have a big day ahead. Perhaps it’s a job interview. An operation. An event that we are dreading. Or an extensive day of travel. Whatever the occurrence may be, anxiety can rob us of the sweet sleep that we need to sustain us through the next day.

On the eve of standing before Herod Agrippa I to be tried and sentenced for following Jesus, we find Peter sleeping peacefully. Really?! Was he oblivious to the imminent danger that threatened to bring an abrupt halt to his life when he faced Herod the next morning? Furthermore, we find Peter sleeping peacefully chained to two guards. Wouldn’t their very presence disturb his slumber? Apparently not. For in all this, Peter slept on undisturbed because he trusted in the LORD’s good providence.

Psalm 4:4 Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still.

Peter’s trust in his LORD was so secure, just as David’s was, many centuries earlier. David, though threatened by enemies, could sleep knowing that he was protected and provided for by God. Communing with our heart, deliberately reassuring and reminding ourselves of God’s faithfulness and goodness enables us to be still within ourselves and sleep peacefully at night.

Psalm 4:8 I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.

When we have a big day ahead, can we concur with David’s words? We may have taken all the necessary precautions and preparations for what lays ahead of us, but we need to be assured that despite our best efforts, it is God who will walk before us, prepare our path and keep us in safety. Only when this becomes the true and living reality of our heart, will we be able to be still on the inside and sleep the peaceful slumber of one fully rested in Him.

Acts 12:7 And behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly, and his chains fell off from his hands.

It is worth noting that the apostle Peter was in such a deep restful sleep that the angel had to strike him heavily on his side to arouse him! His was not a half-hearted, tossing and turning sleep, but the kind that brings deep rest and refreshment. The sleep that restores and sets the mind and body ready for a new day. This is the sleep that overtakes us when we trust fully in the Sovereignty of God. No matter what happens when the dawn breaks we are in the loving hands of the One who has all in His hands.

Where do we find ourselves at this time? Perhaps, like me, sleep has been a challenge and an elusive pleasure. Let’s examine our hearts. Do we lie down in peace knowing that God has and will work out the events of each new day for our good, or do we labor in anxiety and fretfulness over what will come tomorrow? And then we wonder why cannot sleep! Counting sheep and other such strategies brings no joy. Only thankful, surrendered prayer ascended to the ear of our Heavenly Father and a quiet trust in the goodness of God will awash our weary mind and body with the sleep we seek.

Let’s offer a prayer for peaceful sleep to Him.

‘LORD of all goodness and rich blessings, thank You that You withhold no wonderful thing from those who seek You with their whole heart. Today, I admit that my mind has wandered far from You. Far from trusting in Your goodness and faithfulness to me. Forgive me for my doubts and disturbances. Fill my mind and body with the restful sleep of Peter so that no matter what I may face tomorrow, I surrender it all to You, knowing that You will establish all that concerns me because You love me. Amen.’

About Jennifer Woodley

Jennifer is an Australian freelance writer who lives in a small rural town in sunny Queensland. She is passionate about encouraging others on their journey with Christ through writing and mentoring. Jennifer is a school chaplain, wife, mother of three adult sons and loving grandma of one adorable grandson. More of her writing can be found at www.inhisname6.com and www.faithwriters.com.

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One comment

  1. Jennifer,
    Powerful truth and such a strong prayer at close. Wonderful post, thank you for sharing your heart and love for the LORD with us.
    God Bless~

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