Last night, I enjoyed a long and restorative sleep.
It occurred to me that it’s been many months since I intentionally focused on and thanked God for this ability to lie down at night, close my eyes and sleep soundly for eight hours.
This morning, I stayed in the moment and allowed the memories to come flooding back. About 25 years ago, I experienced incredible insomnia – 14 months of it, in fact. Without question, it was one of the most painful times in my life.
I have learned since that there are times when “God gives us a “season of askesis” – an involuntary confinement forcing the person to listen to the voice of God.” (Terry Wardle, Draw Close to the Fire)
Those fourteen months were my “season of askesis.”
I did all the right things to help me fall asleep – I tried the warm bath, the routine bed time, the herbs, the tea, the soft light – the list was endless – but every night, just as I was falling asleep, a surge of adrenalin would run through my ears and I was up for hours. I got angry and of course, that just made things worse. I was crushed. I felt hopeless. I was stuck in the middle of a trial and I desperately wanted out.
But that wasn’t God’s plan. I understand now that He wants us to learn from trials, not run from them. We live in a society convinced that brokenness is to be avoided at all costs but in His love and presence, God taught me about embracing the painful journey and changing, rather than running away from it. As agonizing a time that it was, Jesus was right there with me, in the midst of my suffering.
I have never been the same.
Suffering has a purpose. For me, it was time to let go of control . . . and God used suffering to reshape me to the very core of my being.
Now I sleep soundly but Lord, God, may I never take this for granted.
This morning, I was tearfully reminded that sleep is a gift from God.
…and in faithfulness you have afflicted me. Psalm 119.75 NIV