Devotion: The Tale of Two Nights

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.

Isaiah 40:28

While traveling last week, I had dichotomous experiences trying to fall asleep. One evening, I was on a Frontier Redeye sleeping in a seat that failed to recline. The next evening, I was tucked under a duvet in a Hilton Garden suite.

Strangely, I was able to sleep solidly for three hours on the redeye, while I tossed and turned through a miserable night of sleep in the hotel room. It was as if the sheer expectation that I would finally sleep well meant that I would not sleep. The suffering of an overnight flight lowered my expectations of what was possible that so that I could appreciate the littlest moments of sleep.

As I watched the clock slowly tick away in my comfy hotel bed, I wondered if maybe our inflated expectations in life cause us the deepest misery. Our expectations of how things should be done cause us the greatest disappointment, because they bump against the harsh realities of life.

On the Frontier flight, however, I had little expectations (though I did mistakenly think a glass of water would be free).

I fear that most of us expect that following Christ will result in the warm duvet-covered blessings of life. We expect that life will go smoothly if we give our lives to Christ. Children will respectfully say, “Yes sir.” We’ll have a life filled with joyous laughter, meaningful and fulfilling days, an abundant paycheck, marital bliss, plus a continental breakfast in the morning.

This causes us to toss and turn in the disappointing experiences of the day wondering why we feel so exhausted yet unproductive. These disappointments stack up against us causing us more fretting and sleepless nights.

Instead, Christ invites us to see that in the hard moments of suffering and pain and loss we can find rest. He calls us to deny ourselves, pick up our crosses and follow him down the jetway into the refining fires of life–much like a Frontier redeye. It is in those cramped moments of life where we discover and appreciate the small moments of grace and mercy.

Our power comes not from our own strengths and abilities; it comes in our weaknesses. That is why sleep is such a powerful theological statement. You cannot make yourself sleep. In fact, the more you try to sleep, often, the more you don’t sleep. Then finally, when you do fall asleep you are showing that you are NOT God. Because He is a God who neither slumbers nor sleeps (Psalm 121).

As Augustine famously said, “My soul is restless until it finds rest in you.” Our rest is not feasible until we have found Christ.

How can you find rest in the uncomfortable moments? How can you release your expectations of how life should be, and accept the reality of how life is?

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