Difficulty in getting sufficient sleep for whatever reason is of concern to many. Studies have resulted in estimates that between 50 million and 70 million Americans have sleep-related problems. Also, according to the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Sciences (formerly IMS Health), Americans were prescribed some 59 million sleeping pills in 2012 (Jonel Aleccia, “Sleepless in the States,” www.nbcnews.com, August 29, 2013). In the town of 50,000 where I live, there are several sleep clinics.
My heart goes out to those who struggle with this problem. The need for peaceful rest has been recognized since biblical times, and the Bible gives us hints on how to meet this issue. King Solomon, for instance, tells us to “keep sound wisdom and discretion:… When thou liest down … thy sleep shall be sweet” (Proverbs 3:21, 24). And Christ Jesus invites all to “come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
There was a time when I frequently experienced interrupted or fretful sleep because of employment concerns. I was director of a cooperative graduate education program between two universities, when, with little notice, one of the universities withdrew from the agreement. Without the program to manage, I ended up losing a third of my income, which seemed devastating to my family. I also felt some resentment toward an administrator at the university that had dropped its support. My efforts to reestablish the program or replace my lost income through other means were not successful.
One way to think of “rest” is as being still in order to feel the comfort and protection of the allness and love of God.
Finally, I decided to humbly pray for direction that would restore my peace. One way to think of “rest” is as being still in order to feel the comfort and protection of the allness and love of God, enabling us to drop fearful, anxious thinking. There is a distinction between sleep, an unconscious state, and the kind of rest that comes from being refreshed by spiritual views of God and His creation, man—which includes everyone. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, tells us, “The consciousness of Truth rests us more than hours of repose in unconsciousness” (p. 218).
Truth being a Bible-based name for God, the consciousness of Truth brings the rest and peace promised by Jesus to anyone feeling weary and burdened. So it is helpful to ask ourselves, Is my goal to do nothing more than make the body relax and slip into a state of unconsciousness? Or is it to discover the truth of God’s allness and goodness, and of God’s love for man and woman made in His spiritual image and likeness?
It isn’t the amount of sleep that brings real rest and refreshment, but our state of consciousness. When we open our thought to divine Truth with a willingness to receive fresh spiritual ideas, new and reassuring ideas do come. And they give us a gratifying sense of rest and security in the knowledge that we are preserved and protected in the ever-present love of God, who is Love itself. Resting in this consciousness of Truth is a healing, spiritual activity.
As I earnestly studied the Bible and Mrs. Eddy’s writings, it became clear that everyone is inseparable from the divine Mind, God, and therefore we can never be deprived of the inspiration and ideas we need to peacefully move forward. Praying this way brought a calm assurance that the needs of both the affected students and my family would be satisfied, although I did not know how. With this sense of peace and purpose, the fear and resentment lifted, and I was able to sleep restfully again.
The fear and resentment lifted, and I was able to sleep restfully again.
The following week I was invited to attend a meeting at my state’s department of education. This meeting led to contacts with officials who were significantly interested in the success of the cooperative graduate program. Very soon thereafter the program was reinstated, along with my position, which I held for several more years. This experience was an affirmation of God’s love and care for all.
Science and Health 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). Understandingly trusting this to be true, and praying earnestly for God’s direction, meets our daily needs, and likewise gives us a peaceful sense of rest and refreshment.
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