What thoughts run through your mind when you can’t sleep at night? If you’re like me, your imagination probably tends to fall into one or more of these categories:
- The next day’s to-do list.
- My family’s well-being.
- A difficult relationship.
- Regrets about something I said or did in the past.
- Plans for accomplishing a particular goal or project.
Entertaining the above catapults my brain into overdrive and makes sound sleep impossible. Intentionally turning my thoughts to the Lord, I find, is the best solution.
First, I ask God to help me bring my busy thoughts into captivity. Then I focus on His character and praise Him for as many attributes as I can recall—His sovereignty, faithfulness, wisdom, and power, for example.
I spend a few minutes thinking about how each of those attributes applies to my current situation or concern. Doing so shifts my thoughts from my circumstances to His character, and calm replaces anxiety. Truth reminds me that I belong to Jesus, and He cares for every detail of my life. I needn’t be afraid or feel as though I must strive to fulfill His purposes for my life. Rather, I can be free to enjoy relationship with Him and trust that He’ll direct my path and equip me for whatever He desire me to accomplish.
Focusing on God’s character brings calm to our anxious hearts, but there’s another benefit to practicing this discipline of the mind. The Psalmist wrote, “I reflect at night on who you are, O LORD; therefore, I obey your instructions” (Psalm 119:55). Remembering who God is gives us the courage and ability to do what He says. It enables us to “be anxious for nothing” and to “give thanks in everything.” It also enables us to step beyond our comfort zone into whatever He’s asking us to do. All of these combined work together to slow and settle our thoughts so we can rest.
As the Christmas season approaches, I’m focusing on isaiah 7:14—“Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” When anxious or busy thoughts flood my mind at night, I’m choosing to turn them to the truth: Immanuel—“God with us.” I reflect on God’s presence with me through thick and thin, and I thank Him that His presence is all I need.
How about you? How do you handle sleepless nights? If you reflect on who God is, then tell us what aspect of His character you find especially meaningful.