Does God Care If You Get Enough Sleep?

Work your fingers to the bone and what do you get? Bony fingers! Bony fingers! The words of Hoyt Axton's 1974 song are not too far off the mark -- if God is not in the work!

Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. (Psalm 127:1-2 ESV)

Lately, I've been looking in the mirror and not liking the guy I see. He's got a long face, a weathered look, and is showing signs of being older and tired. Yesterday, I was bemoaning my unpleasant mug when my dear, sweet wife very gently and very kindly confirmed what I had been feeling: "Not to offend you," she said, "but you do!" Talk about a wake-up call for getting some rest!

Eugene Peterson writes about work and rest in A Long Obedience In The Same Direction. Commenting on Psalm 127, he writes:

"For it makes very little difference how much money Christians carry in their wallets or purses. It makes little difference how our culture values and rewards our work . . .  if God doesn't. . . . Relentless, compulsive work habits ("work your worried fingers to the bone") which our society rewards and admires are seen by the psalmist as a sign of weak faith and assertive pride, as if God could not be trusted to accomplish his will, as if we could rearrange the universe by our own effort." [1]

Peterson's words got me thinking about the inactive side of my discipleship, namely my sleep: Just as hard work is good (Proverbs 14:23) and laziness is bad (2 Thessalonians 3:6-12), rest is essential (Psalm 127:2). So why don't I get enough of it? If I probe the inner recesses, I must admit that underlying long days and little sleep is often "weak faith and assertive pride."

Psalm 127 is a welcome reminder that you and I are not simply working machines! God's care extends to our sleep. A good night's rest is a gift from Him. Taking time to rest shows our faith in Him.

Tonight, I'm going to get some sleep!


[1] Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience In The Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society, page 111.