When I Am Restless and Sleepless by Kara O'Byrne
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Do you ever have those restless nights? For me, it comes if I have caffeine after 3pm. Because of this, caffeine is now considered a treat for me and if I do indulge in a sweet tea, it's only at lunch.
I've learned this the hard way. I've had too many nights wide awake watching the night hours pass from midnight to two to three to four and so on. The worst part is when the anxiety creeps in with fear of "If I don't go to sleep now, how will I function tomorrow?" Stress and rest may come from the same letters but they are not at all simpatico.
Sometimes, though, the restlessness is unrelated to caffeine and instead a result of an over-stimulated mind, from to-do's to stress and fear. Can you relate?
This week, my friend, Kara O'Byrne, is sharing her reflection of Psalm 134 with us to help us see how we can respond when we find ourselves in these sleepless nights and how even these unwanted circumstances can be used for our good and our neighbor's good and God's glory.
Kara is a wife, mother, and former teacher who has experienced the powerful, redemptive work of God in her marriage and life. As a lover of words and God’s Word, she desires to encourage others with His truth through the ups and downs of everyday life. Along with her family and Jesus, her passions include: reading, movies, family game time, and visiting Disney parks. She has been a contributing author to Proverbs 31, Hope When Your Heart is Heavy devotional and is a member of Proverbs 31 Compel Training. Kara also serves her local church in music and Sunday School ministries. She would love to connect with you at Renew2Restore through Instagram or Facebook.
The minutes tick by as I wrestle to find a comfortable spot on my bed and in my head. I do not thrive during the nocturnal hours. Generally, we were created to be awake during the day and asleep at night. Still, that is not always a possible reality. Whether you work in a hospital ward, have a child that needs attending, or struggle to calm your worried mind; at one time or another, we will all find ourselves awake in the dead of night.
In those dark moments, what are some words that come to mind? Some of mine include restless, never-ending, and anxious. A long, sleepless night does not bring the words awesome or blessing to my mind! Yet this is precisely what we see in Psalm 134. Despite its brevity, this song mentions the word bless three times!
Come bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who stand by night in the house of the Lord! Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the Lord! May the Lord bless you from Zion, he who made heaven and earth.” - Psalm 134 (ESV)
So what exactly is going on here? In 1 Chronicles 9:33, we learn that the heads of the Levite families were in charge of keeping watch over the Lord’s temple all day and all night. They stayed awake and looked after the sacred elements found inside. The first part of this Psalm is a charge to those entrusted with this all-important role, encouraging them to worship the Lord throughout their night watch. The final verse is an answer from the priests, who give a blessing back to those encouraging them. Though small, we can find two powerful truths to tuck in with us.
Truth #1: Bless the Lord at all times, especially at night.
Scripture teaches us that singing praises and being thankful helps to unlock peace and direction in our lives. It encourages us to offer a “sacrifice of praise” even through difficult times. This means those sleepless nights spent working or full of distress can be the perfect opportunity for us to practice this praise. I am confident it could pivot those experiences from begrudging to enjoyable. Paul and Silas give us a real-time example of this in the Philippian jail (Acts 16:25). Despite being in the most terrible of circumstances, they were found singing praises and blessings to God. These acts led to the literal unlocking of their chains! The same can be true for us.
Truth #2: Bless others and remind them who God is.
I love the give-and-take modeled here in Psalm 134. It begins with one party encouraging another to bless the Lord and praise Him. The recipient echoes back a blessing, pointing to who God is. We can model this same response in our lives and those around us. When people are struggling through a season of hardship, we can bolster their spirits with words of blessing and encouragement. In reverse, when someone encourages us, we can make the time to return the blessing to them. Encouraging others and pointing each other towards, God always unfolds a dual benefit to both the giver and the receiver.
So, whatever night you are facing, be it literal darkness or a difficult season, take the time to worship God and speak His truth to yourself. Then, infused with His power, spread God’s love and truth to those around you. Bless you, during all of your nights!
Now, It's Your Turn!
Before opening God's Word, take a moment to pray and ask God to meet you there. Then...
Read Psalm 134 a couple times. Highlight what stands out to you.
Circle verbs or specific wording you notice.
Then, write down a bullet point takeaway based on this. "I-statements" help make this personal. Think of this as a challenge statement.
Even my restlessness can be used for good and for God's glory. I will choose to bless the Lord and let this be the echo of my soul throughout my days and my nights.
Then, jot down a question or two to think about today. You don't have to have the answer to this question now. And yield to the Holy Spirit - prayerfully ask God to search your heart and lead you to more truth and grow your faith through the Holy Spirit.
How could I find purpose even in my sleepless nights? Who could I pray for in this time? How might viewing my unwanted restlessness as a "night watch" help me bless others and put their needs before my own?
Again, we don't have to be Bible scholars and talk only in the thou's and art's of King James version to read this book. ...because when we pray before we read, we are not alone. The Holy Spirit is with us, guiding and teaching us.
Praise God for this!
And praise God for refreshment as we are intentional to spend a summer in the Psalms together, for if we want His truth to ever be on our lips, it must first be planted in our hearts.
Our strength grows as we rely on strength from above. Our joy grows as we see God transforming us from the inside out. Our peace grows as we spend time in God's presence, and we find rest when we intentionally seek the Lord first in our lives, for the Lord is ever our portion.
The good life, well it starts with a good day. Then another. Then another. Let's choose to live #TheGoodDay one day at a time.
I love hearing from you, so go ahead. Leave a comment. Be brave. Maybe your comment will speak life into someone else!
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