Sleepless these days? Wrestling with ghosts or having nightmares of lonely struggles? From all the turmoil in our personal, national, and worldly concerns, we have become a people dependent on medication, meditation, sleep contraptions, and sound reducing earbuds to insulate ourselves from the escaping shards of rest and peace. Yet, trying to drown out the sounds of cacophony can lead to self-reliance. Isaiah 50:10 says, “Who walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord and rely upon his God.” The next verse expresses this thought negatively, again reinforcing the admonition to rely on God. “Look, all you who kindle a fire, who encircle yourselves with sparks: Walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks you have kindled –This you shall have from My hand: You shall lie down in torment” (v 11).
Recently I watched a movie, The Road, based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy which won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. The setting is post-apocalyptic, and the two main characters, a father and his young son, are on a journey south to escape the encroaching cold while avoiding cannibalistic remnants of society. The horrific and heartbreaking scenes are precariously balanced by the father’s assurance to his son that they are the “good guys” who are “carrying the fire.” As I heard the repeated assertion by father and son, I could not help but wonder how the heaviness of self-reliance can eclipse the only true Light of the World. When all we have left is ourselves to look to, we will (like this father and son) certainly lie down in torment. Yet, we who believe, how can we forget what Jesus Christ said? “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” (Matthew 11:28).
And how does reliance on God help others? It begins with a simple supplication as in Psalm 69:16. “Hear me, O Lord, for Your lovingkindness is good; Turn to me according to the multitude of Your tender mercies.” To testify that God is good and that He is merciful establishes trust that he will intervene on our behalf. Maybe nothing dramatic happens, and maybe this act of reliance will take the shape of patient waiting. There is a change, however, to the troubled mind and restful sleep comes. Sleep rejuvenates the spirit and energizes our praise to God. Regardless of how or when God answers prayer, our steadfast hope in God’s lovingkindess encourages others who also are ‘poor in spirit.’ Psalm 69:32 says, “The humble shall see this and be glad; And you who seek God, your hearts shall live.” Yet, it is not our actions that bring down the peace that passes all understanding. To believe that is to again become self-reliant. Rather, our help comes from the God who asks, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you [my italics]. The verb used implies that God is saying, “As for Me, I am unable to forget you!” (commentary; New King James Version). So let us pass on to our children and our Christian brothers and sisters the assurance that the God who never sleeps (He doesn’t need to in order to have perfect peace!) is our help in troubled times. Let us seek to lift each other up by coming together, each “…has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.” Instead of teaching each other to depend on self; we must encourage one another to rely on God if we are to enjoy peace and rest in our Lord.
We thank You, Lord, for You are the Light of the World and the burning flame that we carry to others. Light the way, we ask You, Lord Jesus, and please give the weary soul rest, if even for a night.