“Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.” Victor Hugo
There has been much in the news recently about the benefits of sleep, particularly going to sleep and getting up at the same time each day. There are even reports that people who have less than six hours sleep or more than eight hours per day are less likely to achieve weight loss than those who have between six and eight hours.
Anyone with small children may well think ‘chance would be a fine thing’. There are other reasons for sleeplessness too. Chronic pain, too much alcohol or caffeine, stress and worry are all likely to have us lying awake in the small hours even if we have gone to bed at a sensible hour. In recent years, we have added another detrimental element into the equation – the blue light emanating from our phones and tablets. It is not only teenagers who may have hours of screen time a day; the ‘always on’ culture many of us have become accustomed to in our working lives has led us to believe that we need to be available 24 hours a day. For many of us, our phones are the last thing we look at before we go to sleep, we rely on them as alarm clocks and they are the first thing we look at in the morning, often checking them before we even get out of bed. No wonder we are not sleeping well!
As always, God has pre-empted the news reporters. In Psalm 127:2 He says: It is useless to work so hard for a living, getting up early and going to bed late, for the Lord provides for those he loves, while they are asleep.
Obviously, this does not mean that we don’t need to work, rather that we should work to live, rather than live to work. As far back as the 6th century, Benedictine monks established the ancient office of Compline, which derives its name from a Latin word meaning ‘completion’. It is above all a service of quietness and reflection before rest at the end of the day, and is still held today in many churches. Sometimes the stresses and worries of our lives seem like storms raging around us and filling our minds, and we end our day in anything but quiet reflection. Jesus’s disciples experienced a real storm, and to their disquiet, Jesus was sleeping through it!
And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was…..in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” to which He replied, “Why are you frightened? Do you still have no faith?” Matthew 8:24 Mark 4:38
Yes, Jesus does care, however the storm may seem to rage. And He can do something arguably even more incredible that telling the wind and waves to be still; He can bid us too to have faith rather than fear, so that, in the words of an Amish proverb: “Sometimes God calms the storm, but sometimes God lets the storm rage and calms His child.”
Liz Jenkin, Elder at Great Shelford Free Church
Current Study Series based on Mark 6:6 >> 8:21
- …. Sending out the twelve (Mark6:6-13)
- …. Flashback (Mark 6:14-29)
- …. Five Thousand Eat (Mark 6:30-44)
- …. Walking on Water (Mark 6:45-52)
- …. Healings (Mark 6:53-56)
- …. God’s Commands and Human Tradition (Mark 7:1-12)
- …. Syrophoenician Women (Mark 7:24-30)
- …. Four Thousand Eat (Mark 7:31-37)
- …. But deliver us from evil (Mark 8:1-10
- …. Signs from Heaven (Mark 8:11-13)
- …. Yeast of the Pharisees (Mark 8:14-21)
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