Parents, Resolve to Rest

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If there is one thing I was not sufficiently warned about with having children, it’s that sleep deprivation affects all. the. things. When my youngest was a newborn, I spent one morning in a state of sleep-deprived panic.

While on the phone with my sister, I dressed my baby to head out for the day, and then I started to panic… because I couldn’t find my phone.

While my sister gabbed on the line, I interrupted her and in an exasperated tone explained that I just needed to go. I was late to Bible study, and I couldn’t find my phone.

Folks, I looked for another twenty minutes after hanging up the actual phone in order to look for my actual phone.

When my body is worn out, so is my mind.

God Cares About Our Physical Bodies

New Year’s resolutions often include something related to our physical bodies. And this is a good thing! The body is emphasized throughout Scripture. In Romans 12, believers are exhorted to offer their bodies as a living sacrifice to God. Interestingly, He doesn’t start with our mind or our heart, but our bodies. We need our bodies to be healthy to do what it is that God has called us to do. 

Exercise is the most common resolution, and this is good. The Bible repeats the phrase over and over, “Be strong and courageous,” and while there is always a spiritual element to this, there is also a physical aspect to this command. He meant for Joshua to actually be strong in preparation for battle.

Exercising our bodies is good, and as parents, we should carve out time, no matter how hectic life may be, to take care of the physical bodies God has given us

Watching what we eat and drink is another common resolution. The Lord Himself took care of his body through food and drink, and He wants us to enjoy the sustenance provided (1 Tim. 6:17), but in moderation and thoughtfulness. We honor God when we treat our bodies well (1 Cor. 6:19-20), paying attention to how we fuel them.

As busy parents, often shuttling kids to and fro during breakfast and dinner time, fast food can become a norm, but it’s important to model moderation and talk about why it might be important to the Lord that we nourish our bodies well.

But What About Sleep?

What is not as common when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions is a commitment to get better sleep. Sometimes we don’t sleep well because of our circumstances, perhaps we have a newborn, but other times, we don’t know how to achieve it, so we just run on fumes and accept exhaustion as a part of the norm.

Did you know that the Bible talks about sleep over 200 times? If it’s that important to the Lord, it’s worth our consideration, perhaps even our New Year’s resolution.

Now that I have teens and young adults, I’m aware that sleep deprivation can be just as real as it was in the infant years. I’ve spent many nights starring at the clock wishing away the minutes just to get to that curfew hour so I can go to bed. And then once the kids are home safely, I inevitably toss and turn, worrying about tomorrow’s ongoings.

Look, I’m not a sleep expert, but because it matters to God, I have tried to put more time and energy into figuring out how I can sleep better. According to the Bible, there are two aspects about sleep that are important to remember:

Sleep is a Gift from God

Psalm 127 says, “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.” The opposite of toiling anxiously is sleeping peacefully, and this is a gift God gives His children.

We’re human, and we live in a broken world, so we won’t experience perfect sleep every night. But the Lord desires for us to rest our bodies, so as much as we think through exercise routines and meal planning, we should be asking for the Lord for wisdom when it comes to our sleep.

There is little that is more precious than good rest after a busy day. Time to put away the toil and be at peace is a gift from our Creator. Accept it as such and use the benefits to bring Him glory in your work and in parenting.

Sleep is an Act of Trust in God

When our kids get older, one of the greatest reasons for lack of sleep is worry. We have a hard time allowing our minds to rest, and so we lay in the quiet considering all the “what-ifs.”

Psalm 121 asks the question, “Where does my help come from?” And the Psalmist answers: “My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.”  

Sleep is an act of faith because we are actively accepting our humanity and putting at the foot of the cross all the aspects of life that cause us the greatest anxiety. In doing so, we are saying to God, the one who created the heavens and the earth, I trust you so fully that I give you all the details of tomorrow and close my eyes.

Jesus never sleeps. While we rest, he is continually working out every detail of this life for our good and for His glory. If you wake in the middle of the night, talk to the one who is watching over you. Rather than resorting to the “to do” list, listen to Jesus or recite a passage of Scripture and focus on each individual word. Allow God’s very real presence to bring you peace and rest.

Because of God’s love and his sacrifice on the cross, there will be a day when we experience perfect rest. In the meantime, we should seek sleep, as best as we’re able, as an act of trust in Jesus, the one who is magnified in our weakness. Consider a different kind of resolution this year and pray through what changes you can make in order to better rest in the sovereign hands of our gracious God.

 

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