The Upper Room Devotion for Monday, July 10, 2023, was written by Bruce Bedingfield from Illinois.
1 Answer me when I call, O God of my right! You gave me room when I was in distress. Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer. 2 How long, you people, shall my honor suffer shame? How long will you love vain words, and seek after lies? Selah 3 But know that the Lord has set apart the faithful for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him. 4 When you are disturbed, do not sin; ponder it on your beds, and be silent. Selah 5 Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord. 6 There are many who say, “O that we might see some good! Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord!” 7 You have put gladness in my heart more than when their grain and wine abound. 8 I will both lie down and sleep in peace; for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety.
Psalm 4:1-8 NRSV
IN THE NIGHT
I was going through a difficult time, and I had a lot on my mind. Unfortunately, my sleep was affected by the stress, and the resulting fatigue severely impaired by daily functioning. Eventually I realized I couldn't handle it on my own, and I asked God for assistance.
Soon I adopted a new routine. When I awakened at night, I would spend 10 minutes at my desk praying, writing down my concern, and putting them in God's hands. If my concerns seemed trivial, I would conclude, "Quite your mind. Everything's fine." If the worries were more significant, I would tell myself, "Quiet your mind. God's at your side." When I went back to bed, I would recite comforting Bible verses. I put all of my worries in God's hands and would usually drift peacefully back to sleep.
I intend to keep my night times with God. "I will bless the LORD who advises me; even at night I am instructed in the depths of my mind" (Ps. 16:7, CEB). God not only comforts me; God gives me wisdom at night.
How does stress impact your daily functioning? The stress of troubled relationships, uncertainty around employment, or the health challenge of a loved one can create a strain that distracts us from experience the joy all around us. Bruce's reflection highlights one of the ways stress interrupts our lives: broken sleep. When we don't get enough sleep or our sleep is consistently broken, we can become irritable and combative. Bruce's reflection offers us a process for using our broken sleep to draw nearer to God.
Bruce spent time offering his concerns to God, offering himself encouraging affirmations and reciting comforting scriptures. Yet, instead of waiting until our sleep is broken to implement Bruce's process, I recommend it as an outline for our daily time with God. Jesus states: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). Jesus recognizes how stressful life can be and offers an invitation to receive the comfort and rest we need. Finding rest in Jesus does not mean our struggles will disappear, but it will grant us the sweet assurance that God is in control. I pray you seek God's comfort during your waking hours, that you might be at peace during your resting hours.
Dear Lord, comfort us in the night as well as in the day. Help us to turn all our worries over to you. Amen.