“While We Sleep…"
“In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat, for he gives to those he loves while they sleep” (Psalm 127:2).
Author Lauren Winner was asked how we as followers of Jesus can be more counterculture. Her answer? “Get more sleep.”
Miss Winter admitted the curious nature of her comment. "Surely one could come up with something more other-directed, more sacrificial, less self-serving,” she wrote. Still, she reasoned, “a night of good sleep—a week, or month, or year of good sleep—testifies to a countercultural embrace of sleep (that) bears witness to values higher than ‘the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desire for other things.’”
Israel’s poet anticipated her thoughts: “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat, for he gives to those he loves while they sleep.”
There’s something wonderfully significant about this psalm, something easily missed unless we understand that Israel’s day began in the evening and not in the morning.
We begin our day when the sun comes up. We leap out of bed, grab a cup of coffee, wolf down an energy bar and rush out the door to begin our work. Only when our work is done do we rest, and our work is never done. There’s always one more e-mail to answer, one more phone call to return, one more errand to run.
Israel’s sequence of evening and morning pictures the attitude we should embrace toward all our efforts: We must begin with rest—rest in a God of infinite resources. When we awaken to begin our work, we rise to join Him in a work in progress, for he does not slumber nor sleep.
It’s useless to drive ourselves in anxious frenzy, the psalmist pleads, as if success depends on our efforts. We must work hard and we must be faithful in all we do, but everything depends upon God. He has been working throughout eternity to gain our highest good. Thus in simple faith we rest “that He, who knows and loves, will do the best.”
Maker of all, the Lord,
And Ruler of the height,
Who, robing day in light, hast poured
Soft slumbers o’er the night,
That to our limbs the power
Of toil may be renew’d,
And hearts be rais’d that sink and cower,
And sorrows be subdu’d.
 Lauren Winner, “Books & Culture,” January/February 2006, Vol. 12, No. 1, Page 7.