A solution to the lack of zzzzz's

If you’re stifling off a yawn while you read this, we sure hope we’re not THAT boring. But you apparently wouldn’t be alone in feeling tired and sluggish.

 

It seems the majority of the entire world is a bit sleepy these days.

 

The statistics are everywhere that this pandemic situation has people feeling anxious, fatigued and just a little cranky. OK, in some cases a LOT of cranky.

 

One report says that before the Virus That Shall Not Be Named showed up, around 20% of people reported trouble with sleep. Now that figure has zoomed to around 60%.

 

Survey results from this year published in a story from Safety and Health Magazine says only eight percent of adults in the U.S. claim they are well rested after a night of sleep. That’s it, just eight percent.

 

Meanwhile over 60% told the survey that they can’t remember the last time they were well rested. Around 68% said stress was keeping them awake. Three quarters of respondents say they nap during the day and nearly all of those claimed it was to make up for a lack of sleep the night before.

 

A telling line from the magazine story – “Around half said more quality sleep would improve their emotional health.” What we keep reading about in the headlines nearly every day…

 

In a separate survey a key statistic was “86% of Americans have trouble falling or staying asleep at least once a week.” Money was cited in this story as a major reason for sleep troubles.

 

Apparently the Sandman hasn’t been keeping up with his responsibilities. Or maybe like many others these days, he’s holding out for a higher wage.

 

When you consider all of the above it’s no surprise to see the strife in society today. One of the latest is the shooting incident outside a major league baseball park during a game that interrupted the contest and sent fans and players INSIDE the park scrambling for safety.

 

Shooting incidents in the past year have become as commonplace as the sun rising in the morning. It’s not the gun. Crime and out of control citizens are going off the charts this year. People losing tempers in airports and restaurants and stores used to be front page news that we’d scratch our heads over; now it’s become so common we’re used to it.

 

And with some predictions about this virus situation right now and a rising number of cases (again) it looks like that sleeplessness will continue. Just what we don’t need.

 

How do you find peace and restfulness in these turbulent times, no matter your situation? Just reach for the drugs? Uh, no. Recent stories of opioid abuse should immediately scratch that option.

 

It’s interesting when you look at history and search for the times when people came back to the church, came back to God after wandering in the societal desert for so long. Could this be one of those times?

 

Here’s definitive proof that secularism is a pervasive and poisoning drug. It has no real answers to today’s problems, it only feeds them. Secularism is the engine of discord – the universe of you is ultimately empty and causes people to lash out in despair.

 

But belief in something larger than you, MUCH larger and above this earthly realm, is where peace and rest begin.

 

If you’re reading this and struggling mightily in your life, the Lord has answers and the peace you are seeking. And if you’re a person of faith but still fighting your own demons right now, a gentle reminder is needed.

 

Let’s start with perhaps the greatest of the Psalms, so familiar…

 

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,
for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
– Psalm 23 ESV

 

So familiar yet so often we forget that God is always with us. His strong hand and leadership are all that we need to guide us in any situation, even the worst ones. As a shepherd always takes good care of the flock, so the Lord does with us. All we need to do is follow His lead. He fills empty hearts simply by our asking.

 

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

“Be still, and know that I am God.” – Psalm 46:1, 10 ESV

 

And boy do we currently have trouble. The important word there is “present” as in right now. God isn’t some figment from the dustbin of human history. He lives and rules today and forever. Why do we deny that?

 

“Be still” – such a simple phrase and yet one that goes against the “hurry up, I want action now” anxious feelings of today. Acknowledge His presence and His leadership.

 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

 

Can’t sleep? Feel that 500-pound weight on your shoulders, slowly crushing you from the stress of this virus situation, or your job or money, or family strife? From the political squabbles of today or the arguments of dealing with justice or racism? Even climate change or other current problems?

 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7 NIV

 

It’s not scientific. There’s no equation or formula to explain it. It simply works, as He intended. If you haven’t tried it in a while or your prayer life has slid into the ditch, try it today. Go find that quiet space and lay your thoughts to He that created everything. Go for a minute or five minutes, 10 minutes, longer. Start the conversation again. God is always listening.

 

Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?  And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever
. – Psalm 73:23-26 NIV

 

When you read the headlines today you see a lot of people who could use some serious counsel. We’re not being flippant there but quite serious.

 

And then we circle back to our original lament, so many people anxious and lacking in rest…

 

In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves. – Psalm 127:2 NIV

 

We won’t just work ourselves out of these troubles. But we can pray and believe our way out. Give that advice to someone you know – or to yourself.

 

Just be still…

 

From George Churchgoer