Since this blog comes from a devotional I read this morning, by John Piper, I want to be sure that I give him credit for the thoughts of this blog. But I have honestly thought about sleep as a bit of a strange thing in the scope of life.
A significant chunk of our lives is spent doing something that scientists have only scratched the surface of understanding. In evolutionary terms, sleep makes very little sense. It is not advantageous for a species to black out for long periods of time, and although it certainly benefits our bodies in tangible ways, if your worldview revolves around some form of survival of the fittest, then this is a very poor habit that makes humanity like a nighttime buffet for larger nocturnal animals.
Evolution is certainly not my worldview. I believe that God created humanity and therefore I am also on the hook to attempt an explanation of sleep from the perspective of my worldview. A worldview that cannot account for something in reality is a worldview that needs to continue to be modified.
Even from a worldview that believes in a creator God, sleep could be a conundrum. Think of all that humanity could accomplish with that 5-10 hours back each day! With no need to sleep we could work double jobs, we could volunteers more hours to help people, we could read more, study more, etc.
If God created sleep, there must be a fundamental reason. It is not like an all-powerful God was limited by the ability of physical bodies that would get weary, or the brain’s need to shut down regularly to reboot, or defragment or whatever it is doing. God could’ve designed any of those needs right out of the equation.
I think John Piper hit on something when he stated that, “Sleep is like a broken record that comes around with the same message every day: Man is not sovereign . . . Man is not sovereign . . . Man is not sovereign.”
Sleep really is a daily reminder that we are not all that. The best athlete is reduced to a slobbering incoherent pile of stuff each night. Kings, presidents, tyrants, and CEO’s, either sleep or face the consequences. Nobody is exempt from the need. As sovereign as we pretend we are, we are actually very frail and dependent upon God!
Sleep is indeed a reminder that we are very attached to these bodies. Our needs are not even well under our own control. Anyone who has gone through a time of sleeplessness or depression, well knows that our ability to regulate our own sleep patterns is not a skill we can learn.
I am thankful for sleep. And I am thankful for a sovereign God who has given us glimpses of our own frailty. Sleep is just one of many realities that reminds me that I am not sovereign.
Good perspective on this, Don (John). It’s an angle I haven’t considered before. Scripture says that God never sleeps nor slumbers so the contrast between God’s awesomeness and our weakness is valid. My question, though, is if there’s some connection between sleep and Sabaath or is something else meant by God’s “rest” (I ask this knowing that God’s rest is a really big concept involving peace and heaven and relationship, etc.) but I’ve always been curious how sleep tied in. Growing up around the Dutch Reformed, Sunday napping was a spiritual discipline all its own!