In the Middle of the Night

As usual, I find myself giving advice that I’m not taking.

I think the technical term for that is hypocrite.

On Facebook, a friend will say, “I couldn’t sleep last night. Woke up at 2 a.m. and tossed and turned for an hour.”

My usual reply–if I give one; I don’t always–is something like: “Try reciting scripture. The devil doesn’t like it when we do that and will put you right to sleep.”

That’s a tiny bit tongue in cheek–I’m not convinced at all that the devil has much to do with how much God’s children sleep–and a good deal of truth. There’s something about repetition, whether it’s of scripture or lists of anything, that sedates the human mind and lulls us back into the unconscious state.

What scripture, someone asks. Any of it. Clearly, it has to be verses or chapters one knows. In my case, the entire repertoire comes down to Psalms 1, 20, 23, and 103, and Romans 8. In most cases, by the time I get to Romans, I’m out.

More than once I have lain there in the bed trying to think of hymns that start with each letter of the alphabet. A = “All the Way My Savior Leads Me,” B = “Beneath the Cross of Jesus,” C = hmmm…can’t think of a one, how do you like that? Tomorrow I’ll think of a dozen.

Call…cast…Christ…celebrate…. Nope, nothing comes to mind.

This works better if you have a hymnal handy, but that defeats the point.

It’s always good to have a novel handy by the bedside, but only if turning on the light does not wake up the person on the other side of the bed. Of course, you can get up and go into another room and read. Do that, and pretty soon, you’re remembering the cookies or ice cream and you start to make real trouble for yourself.

Been there, done that.

So, we do what we do, each to his own devices.


The television is no answer. In the wee hours of the morning, there’s endless infomercials and mindless reruns of the silliest programs. And lacrosse, they have that on sports channels. That, and soccer. No thanks.

For me, this morning–it’s precisely 3:01 a.m. as I type this–it’s turn on the computer, check my Facebook messages (one was from a pastor friend asking, “So, what is the retiree doing up this time of the morning?”) and my e-mail.

I’m in a hotel in Asheville, North Carolina, and not in my own bed, so that makes the situation more involved. My son and I are picking up his daughters from camp later this morning, then heading to New Orleans. So, I’m in the hotel lobby using their computer. The place is deserted, the television is blaring (to no one), and every light is burning, which gives this the look of a shopping mall.

What did people do in the old days, before television and computers? And, for that matter, before novels. (There was such a time, you know.)

Here is one person’s answer to our question of what to do when sleeplessness sets in…

“I have remembered thy name, O Lord, in the night…” (Ps. 119:55)

“At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee…” (Ps. 119:62)

King David meditated on the Lord and prayed to Him.

Good thinking. Nothing settles the mind like prayer. And nothing fuels prayer like reflecting on the goodness of the Lord.

While we’re not told in the Bible, I’m willing to bet David’s prayer was not, “Lord, help me go back to sleep” or anything like that.

But that’s the only one that comes to mind at the moment.

Now, I have to figure out what to tell a friend the next time he/she says, “I have trouble sleeping at night.”

At this point, my response will be, “You, too? Don’t worry about it. We all do that from time to time.”

7 thoughts on “In the Middle of the Night

  1. Joe: When I was reading this blog and thinking of a song that begins with “c” the first one that came to mind was, “Christ the Lord is Risen Today”.

  2. Joe,

    To deal with insomnia I’ve read with a book light, changed rooms and beds,listened to very soft music or prayed myself to sleep. But one thing almost never fails. I slip in one ear plug of a split head phone set and turn on a CD of a sermon series of a favorite pastor. No,it’s not you. Curious minds will never know. I get some very good instruction. It’s expositional teaching. Not a screamer of a teacher. And, invariable, I never make it to the end. I have to listen again in the morning.

  3. When I do wake up in the wee hours of the morning, and like you I do too, the first thing I think or say is, “Ok Lord, you’ve got my attention, what do you have to tell me…” You would be amazed at how many time He does tell me something that I missed from Him during the hectic distractions of the day!

  4. Brother Joe, I bought several CD’s and DVD’s of the Bible and play them while I lay in bed unable to sleep. I figure even if I don’t go to sleep, I feel like I’m not wasting my time. And if I am looking for an answer to a question or problem, so often I have put the DVD on and just clicked it to a random spot, and within five minutes of listening, God has given me the answer.

    It’s so good to know you are traveling with your family and doing things that you probably didn’t have time to do before.

  5. Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing is one of my favorites. I always liked the part about “here I raise my Ebenezer”. Wasn’t Ebenezer the given name of Eb on Green Acres?

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