Sleepless in Bear, Part 2

by Sharon Betters



…for He grants sleep to those He loves.

Psalm 127:2


Every time my mind fights sleep and I start to get angry and frustrated, I remember a devotional I heard Elisabeth Elliot's daughter, Valerie Elliot Shepherd, give at a women's retreat. We were in a conference center located in a beautiful, desert like setting in California. I spoke several times on the topic of Treasures of Encouragement in the Wilderness of Suffering. I can't remember most of what I said but I will never forget the simple message of Valerie's devotions.

We were all in our PJ's, gathered for the last few minutes before the end of the day and I was emotionally and mentally exhausted, eager to regroup. Valerie began by sharing her own need for sleep. She said she found that if she had a certain number of hours sleep every night, she could handle the many demands of her large family. She was so committed to this number, she planned her life around sleeping so she could be in bed at a certain hour every night. For years, her system worked and then with no warning, she experienced sleeplessness. She panicked and started trying every means she knew to make her body fall asleep at the appointed hour. To no avail, she cried. She was irritated, frustrated, even angry that her body refused to shut down according to her predetermined schedule and needs.

Valerie described her short temper while trying to cope, how tired she was during the day and increasingly upset she wasn't getting the sleep she knew she had to have. I don't remember how long this sleeplessness lasted, but my tiredness increased as I listened to her description of unending exhaustion. 

Then Valerie confessed, "I begged God to give me sleep and He didn't answer my prayer. I was asking Him for something good, something I needed in order to do the tasks required of me as a mother and a wife. He repeatedly denied my request. I begged harder, cried more, and became angrier. I demanded He keep this promise in Psalm 127:2, 'for He grants sleep to those He loves.' When He didn't, I wondered if He was even listening to me."

I resonated with Valerie's frustration and remembered my own sleepless nights. Then she said something so simple and yet so profound I will always remember it, "I finally realized God is sovereign over my sleep and I could trust Him to give me the rest I needed for the tasks at hand. If I only got 4 hours of sleep instead of 8 or 9, then that must be all I needed for the day ahead. While I still longed for more sleep and I was still tired during the day, my attitude took a complete turn and I began to see that my theology applied to everyday details. I had made an idol out of my sleep."

And then we prayed and went to bed.


Hmmm, I'll leave the application of this truth in your life up to you and your Father.

Originally published in Treasures of Encouragement blog May 1, 2010

Sharon W. Betters is author of Treasures of Encouragement, Treasures in Darkness and co-author of Treasures of Faith. She is Director of Resource Development and co-founder of MARKINC Ministries, a non profit organization that offers help and hope to hurting people. Sharon enjoys quality time with her husband, children and fourteen grandchildren.

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