Psalm 127:1-2 “Unless the Lord builds the house, it’s builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat– for he grants sleep to those he loves.”
The world in which we live can give its favorites many things: power, wealth, distinction. The Lord gives sleep to those he loves. Does that sound like a chincy gift? Isn’t sleep free? Or have you lived long enough and experienced enough of life to know that the Lord’s gift of sleep is the real treasure here? If this were a Master Card commercial, “(The Lord) grants sleep to those he loves” would be the “priceless” part at the end. Why?
All of us experience some sleeplessness. A colicky baby, nerves before the big day, or an occasional case of indigestion can rob us of a night’s sleep.
Then there is the chronic sleeplessness that comes because we can find no peace. When we aren’t sure how we are going to make ends meet, sleep can be hard to find. The bills are piling up, job prospects are drying up, collection agencies are showing up, and our stress and anxiety is building up. The future’s uncertainties haunt our thoughts and plague our dreams. Sleep is elusive while we live in a constant state of tension.
But nothing makes it harder to sleep than a guilty conscience. King David once described the misery this way: “I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears.” When we can find no peace with God, we can find no peace at all.
What if we could be sure he loves us? What if we could be sure that he forgives our sins? Then our consciences could be quiet. Then our worries about the future would be answered. Then we could lay our heads down on our pillows at night and sleep like a baby, because we could be sure that we were resting in his loving hands.
We don’t have to wonder whether or not we are those the Lord loves, to whom he gives the gift of peace and sleep. He came here to tell us himself– actually became human flesh so that we could see his love in action and hear it from his own lips. Jesus then took the sins that disturb our consciences and let them disturb him instead. He made our guilt his very own and took it all the way to the cross, where he gave his life to rid us of the curse once and for all. Now he lives again to run the universe for our benefit and assure us that when our eyes close in the sleep of death, they will open to a new day of life that never ends.
And do you notice that he does not say, “He grants sleep to those who are really good.” “He grants sleep to those who try really hard.” “He grants sleep to those who are better than others.” No, he grants sleep, he makes it his gift, to those he loves. It is available to all. It is yours right now by virtue of the fact that you are his children by faith. You know your sins are forgiven. You know that God is going to provide. You know the peace that can give you sweet dreams tonight and every night.
So go ahead, and work hard. But know that God gives you peace, and sleep, as a gift of his love.