“I will find my glory in knowing the Lord.
Let those who are hurting hear me and be joyful.” – Psalm 34:2 (NIrV)
I read this verse last night as I was winding down before bed. I was sitting next to the living room window with the lights out and a candle beside me, soaking up the last few moments of daylight before the sun disappeared over the horizon. I had already read this psalm several times this week, and hadn’t really taken notice of this verse previously. But last night it was almost as if the words leapt off the page at me.
Actually, I read it in a slightly different translation than the one listed above. The version I read last night said, “I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.” I think what I took notice of first was the word “afflicted,” because I was feeling afflicted. I hadn’t slept properly in over 48 hours, and this wasn’t my first experience with insomnia. This has been going on, on and off, for months now, and I have been becoming more and more stressed out about it. Reflecting on this last night as I read Psalm 34, I thought that the word “affliction” really seemed to be an appropriate way to describe my circumstances.
And yet, the verse charged those who were hurting or afflicted to “hear and rejoice.” Rejoice? Like… really? I should rejoice in the midst of this affliction? It’s hard enough to just keep a positive attitude, never mind celebrating!
As you may know, this week I have been working so hard at keeping anxiety down—focusing on positive thoughts, practicing relaxation techniques, getting some moderate exercise, and regulating my breathing—but there is only so much you can do for yourself when you are sleep deprived. Nonetheless, I think I have been doing a really great job (better than I think I have ever done before), and that is something I am very proud of.
As I thought about this idea of rejoicing last night, I couldn’t help but be reminded that God is continually asking me to take my focus off of my affliction, and to keep it fixated on Him and His goodness. Psalm 34 goes on to talk about some amazing promises of God to look after those who pursue Him. Like I mentioned yesterday, it says that those who seek God “lack no good thing.”
With these thoughts in mind, and having faithfully followed the strategies I had outlined in yesterday’s post to set myself up for a successful night, I climbed into bed around 9:30 p.m. and was most likely asleep by 10:00.
I would like to end this post here by saying that the rest is history! I had a great night’s sleep and woke up feeling refreshed and revitalized this morning! But that’s not what happened. I woke up at 1:30 a.m. and was not able to sleep again until around six o’clock this morning.
By this point, I would have expected myself to be beyond frustrated, beyond depressed, and at the point of being just fuming angry. But I’m not. I am thankful.
Did you just do a double take after reading those words? Well, read them again. I am thankful. I am thankful because I am learning a lot through this experience. I am learning that you truly can rejoice in the midst of affliction. I am learning that nighttime doesn’t have to be as scary as I tend to see it being. And I am learning how to manage my emotions, even in the middle of exhausting circumstances.
Last night (before bed), I experimented with leaving all the lights in the house off to cue my body that the sun was setting and it was time to start thinking about going to sleep. After reading was no longer possible, I just sat there in the dark for a little while, with a candle lit beside me. I played some music on the guitar, and I prayed. It was so incredibly peaceful. The dark normally scares me. And to be fair, it scared me a little bit last night. But as I sat in it, and sat through it, I found that I didn’t become overly anxious about it.
Likewise, when I woke up in the middle of the night, I wasn’t really scared. I think I only had one moment during the entire four and a half hours that I was awake when irrational fears tried to infiltrate my mind. And I conquered them. For the most part, though I was unable to fall asleep, I was able to lay there in peace, not being overwhelmed by fear or emotions.
And as I look back on it, I am genuinely thankful for this experience. I would never have enjoyed a relaxing evening of sitting alone in the dark last night, if it hadn’t been for this bout of insomnia. I would never have been able to lay peacefully awake last night, without getting overly frustrated and bitter, if it hadn’t been for my focus over the last few days on just being joyful and grateful.
I don’t know what the deal is with this sleep deprivation. Maybe God is testing me to see if I really will remain positive through this. Or maybe I just have a messed up brain that has decided it doesn’t want to be asleep at nighttime anymore. But either way, I am not going to give up. I am not going to surrender. I am going to keep my focus where it needs to be. I am going to “find my glory in knowing the Lord.” And I know that, one day, I will be stronger for it.