I'm still trying to catch up on my sleep from the other night when my daughter was sick. Until I became a mom, I never realized how precious a commodity sleep is. Even after I became a mom, I thought the sleepless nights would end once my child learned to sleep through the night. Yet, here I am nearly 11 years into motherhood, and I'm still missing out on sleep on a regular basis. The causes of sleepless nights are many -- sick kids, worried kids, kids with nightmares. There are weeks when the reasons for no sleep seem endless. They generally result in a tired, cranky mama and some tired, cranky kids the next day. I find that as I get older, it takes me two to three days to recover from one sleepless night. I'm no longer the 18-year-old who could stay up all night and suffer few consequences the next day.
When my youngest was a baby, it seemed like she would never stop getting up in the middle of the night. My oldest slept through the night at eight weeks old, so I was shocked when my youngest didn't do the same. Once I realized she wasn't going to start sleeping through the night any time soon, I started praying during those midnight feedings. Some of my best times with God happened between the hours of midnight and 2 a.m. I even kept a list of prayer requests taped to my daughter's dresser next to the rocking chair.
Whether it's sick kids, a worried mind or an infant keeping us up at night, God knew we would need Him in the middle of the night. As I was searching my Bible for a verse for Monday's post, I ran across this verse in Psalms. "At midnight I rise to give you thanks for your righteous laws" (Psalm 119:62). David got up at midnight to give God thanks. Now, I'm not recommending that you give up more of your precious sleep to get up at midnight, but I am suggesting that if you are up in the middle of the night God wants to hear from you.
And it's not just in the literal night that God wants to hear from us. During the dark times in our lives -- during illness, death, job loss or family difficulties, God is there. He hears our "songs in the night" (Psalm 77:6). He brings light into those dark times and offers us comfort and joy.
And, we're not the only ones who have dark times and trouble sleeping. Our kids can have some sleepless nights. Some kids have regular nightmares. Other kids will wake up and worry. Still other kids have trouble going to sleep. All of these things result in children who need rest -- physical rest and rest for their souls.
If you're having a season of sleeplessness in your home, help both you and your child to rest by reminding yourselves that God is there in the night with you.
- Post Matthew 11:28, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest," next to your child's bed as a reminder that God is offering rest if we give over the things that are burdening us to Him.
- Create a list of things to be thankful for and post that near your child's bed as well. If your child wakes in the middle of the night, tell him to choose some things off the list to talk with God about. If your child's heart and mind are focused on thankfulness, it will drive out the fear or worry that are keeping him awake.
- Make it a habit to pray when you are awakened by the cry of "Mommy" in the middle of the night. As you reach for your robe and step into your slippers ask God to give you wisdom and grace for whatever is troubling your child.
While our sleepless nights probably won't end until there are no children in our homes, we can walk (or stumble) through those nighttime wakings with our hearts focused on God. It's a great habit to learn as it will help us to remember to rely on God during the dark times in our lives as well as the dark part of the day.