Steady, harmonious patterns in nature can be reassuring. We watch the regularity of sunrises and sunsets, or tides flowing in and out, and we feel the recurring warmth of summer and the briskness of winter. Even in the face of irregular extreme weather incidents, there can still be something comfortingly secure about the usual patterns and rhythms in nature.
Whatever our immediate concerns, the rhythm of the universe continues on a grand scale, governed by universal intelligence, or Mind, God. This gives us perspective when conditions in our lives aren’t so peaceful and we are afraid. As we pray from the mental vantage point of knowing we’re under God’s government, we feel more secure in facing down fear.
Perhaps one of the most common beliefs related to anxiety or fear is that it may disturb our sleep. How can we put out fear and anxiety and find the rest we need at any time of day or night, at any stage of life?
People seek not just the right amount of rest, but peaceful rest. The Bible assures us that we can expect good sleep in this verse from Psalms: “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety” (4:8). A good rest is an outcome of God’s care for His creation.
In her book Retrospection and Introspection, Mary Baker Eddy wrote about the effect of understanding God’s constant care for us: “... if you fall asleep, actually conscious of the truth of Christian Science,—namely, that man’s harmony is no more to be invaded than the rhythm of the universe,—you cannot awake in fear or suffering of any sort” (p. 61).
The consciousness that God, infinite Love, is caring for us—asleep and awake—removes fear and leaves us confident of timeless divine power. Moreover, since divine Love is the source of a good rest—“thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety”—then no one needs to feel excluded from this peace. Christ Jesus demonstrated this by bringing peace and confidence to those he met, and healing them (see the reassurance he brought the woman who touched the hem of his garment, Luke 8:43–48, and the removal of the disciples’ fear when they were in a boat tossed about in a storm, Mark 4:37–39).
Since divine Love is the source of a good rest, then no one needs to feel excluded from this peace.
The peace and confidence Jesus brought is not limited to such times in history—it is always available, day or night. In the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mrs. Eddy explains, “It is not well to imagine that Jesus demonstrated the divine power to heal only for a select number or for a limited period of time, since to all mankind and in every hour, divine Love supplies all good” (p. 494). And in thinking about this statement in relation to sleep we could also say, “… to all mankind and in every hour, divine Love supplies [perfect rest].”
We can pray expectantly with the idea that divine Love embraces the human need and meets it. If the human need for peaceful sleep presents itself to a newborn baby, a seasoned shift worker, or a soldier returning from a battlefield, the divine law that God cares for His creation, in every hour, will supply the rest required. Awareness of the fact that we live under this divine law can heal sleep disorders and disturbances at any age, or in any circumstance.
When I first left home to attend a school teacher training institution, I found it hard to sleep. For the first time in my life I was living on my own and was surprised at how lonely and disoriented I felt. I tossed and turned with uncharacteristic anxiety and fear of the unknown.
Looking for comfort, I turned to Hymn 291 in the Christian Science Hymnal, and it changed the way I was thinking. It starts:
Quiet, Lord, my froward heart,
Make me gentle, pure, and mild,
Upright, simple, free from art;
Make me as a little child.
The ideas in the whole hymn were like balm, soothing my anxious thought. It became a touchstone not only for the remainder of the time I was living on my own, but on many other occasions of enduring testing circumstances. The words of the hymn had me feeling more humble as I asked God for thoughts of gentleness and purity. Personal ego stepped back, and with childlike trust I started my new studies and social connections. I regained a sense of harmony and slept undisturbed at night.
The harmonious rhythm of the universe is held secure by divine intelligence—the same law that provides the rhythm for our daily tasks. Being conscious of God’s law, manifesting itself in many diverse ways, we feel secure whether we’re asleep or awake. Secure peace and health are established, as we are conscious of divine harmony reflected in ourselves. Right here is the law of God that stops us from waking in fear or suffering. It brings peaceful, undisturbed rest.
Mary Beattie is a Christian Science practitioner from Canberra, Australia. She is also a member of the Christian Science Board of Lectureship.