Remember your promise to me;
it is my only hope.
Your promise revives me;
it comforts me in all my troubles.
The proud hold me in utter contempt,
but I do not turn away from your instructions.
I meditate on your age-old regulations;
O Lord, they comfort me.
I become furious with the wicked,
because they reject your instructions.
Your decrees have been the theme of my songs
wherever I have lived.
I reflect at night on who you are, O Lord;
therefore, I obey your instructions.
This is how I spend my life:
obeying your commandments. (NLT)
Insomnia happens to everyone, some more than others. We all have experienced the inability to sleep. Then, there are those persons who choose to arise in the middle of the night just to pray. Yes, monks do this, but there are common people who do, as well. In my own times of trying to get to sleep, I think about such persons. I especially and reflexively go to the psalms. Along with the psalmist, I reflect at night on the character and nature of the Lord.
The psalmist seems to be awake at night because he is frustrated and upset with people who both spurn wise instruction and direct their contempt at those trying to live according to God’s Law. Although insomnia might be the result of angry or unwanted feelings, maybe it is something else altogether. Perhaps the psalmist simply chose to be awake at night and do some theological reflection on God, others, and himself.
At various times in my life I have chosen to set my alarm for two o’clock in the morning to pray. I know it may sound crazy to some. Yet, this discipline has taught me something valuable: God is Lord over all chronological time and every season. And I am a servant of God, not master.
This nightly exercise of weaving my life around a set time of prayer has caused me to learn that I have spent far too much of my life trying to make time bend to my wishes. It is all really an illusion – that I can somehow control the clock. Time marches forward, seasons come and go, and we are a vapor which lasts only a moment.
Whether we find ourselves awake in the night because we cannot sleep, or intentionally choose to use the night for connecting with God, the wee hours of darkness afford us a unique opportunity to ponder the Lord’s promises and commands, attributes, and works.
The next time you find yourself awake at night, try avoiding the television and a zombie-like state of hoping for sleep. Try using the night-time for thinking about the Lord in ways you might not have considered during the day. Pray. Reflect. Consider. In doing so, you may find a blessing of light within the dark.
Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.