God’s Sleep Solutions Don’t Come in Jars
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
I Peter 5:6-7
Recent conversations floated in and out of my mind as I walked the vitamin aisle of my favorite store.
“I haven’t been sleeping well. I woke up again at 3 o’clock. I’ve got so much on my mind; I just can’t sleep.”
As I looked around, words of worry stood tangibly in front of me as multiple containers of natural sleep aids sat in rows on shelves and end-caps. Clearly, I was not alone. Sleep issues were plaguing many of us.
So, why can’t we sleep? What is keeping us awake?
If I were to guess, I would say the thing that keeps us awake at night is not a monster under the bed, but anxiety. We’re worried, stressed and overwhelmed, and we can’t turn it off.
Maybe you are like me and melatonin gummies may help you sleep in the moment, but they do not produce a long lasting solution to the true problem: anxiety. My anxiety rises and my mind kicks into overdrive when I get stressed and start worrying about things. Feeling overwhelmed and emotionally weighed down by all my responsibilities create burdens that rob me of the ability to sleep. I’m tired and want more than a short-term solution to my stress.
Thank goodness, I Peter 5:6-7 offers us more than a Band-Aid for sleep from a jar.
How does it work?
I see two steps to finding rest from our worries in these verses. First we submit ourselves to God. We have to humbling admit we need Him (vs. 6). Next, we have to we have to put our “working to solve it” aside and let Him do His work within us by casting our cares on Him (vs. 7).
Picture a dandelion being blown off its stem by the wind. The pieces are carried off and blown away when the dandelion is exposed to a breeze. In other words, in order for the dandelion’s seeds to be blown away, it has to allow itself to be exposed to a gust of wind.
In the same way, in order for us to “cast our burdens” we must first allow ourselves to be exposed to the wind of God like a dandelion outside. We must become vulnerable, or humble, before God and allow Him to blow, or carry our burdens away. The dandelion doesn’t pick the seeds off. It stands outside allowing the wind to do its work. In the same way, we need to set ourselves out in the open before God and allow Him do to his work within us instead of “picking at” the burdens that stress our minds.
Next, once the dandelion is exposed to the wind, the wind carries the seeds away. Like the dandelion, our job is to set our burdens down before God. The dandelion doesn’t take its seeds off before being exposed to the wind. It stands in the open just as it is, full of seeds waiting to be freed. God says He will carry our burdens for us, but in order for Him to do that we have to stop carrying them ourselves. We have to repeatedly lay down our need to “do it all” and yield our burdens to God instead.
For me that means, I need to stop stressing and start submitting. I need to continually turn my worries over to the Lord. I need to tell Him all of my anxieties. I need to stop maneuvering to solve my problems and start releasing the results to Him in order to truly rest. I need to look for His presence in the midst of my circumstances as if I am a dandelion feeling the wind.
So, next time you reach for the melatonin, pray about the thing that is burdening you. Ask God to expose the deeper issue that is at work keeping you awake. Then, ask Him to carry that burden away like a dandelion seed exposed to a wind. Do it again and again as long as you need to until the “peace of God that surpasses all understanding” infiltrates your heart allowing you to stand as an empty stem free from what has been keeping you awake at night.
Between a husband, 2 sons, and teaching high school my sanity is found in running and Starbucks. I have a circle of running friends who inspire me to be authentic and real as I live a life of faith before them.