By Reverend Mark Hunnemann
The mighty prophet Elijah was fresh off his spectacular God-centered victory over the false prophets of Baal on Mt Carmel. Yahweh displayed that the false god of storms was impotent, indeed, non-existent.However, we see that Elijah was left exhausted by this victory and he plunged into depression. (1 Kings 19:1-7) Here is a principle: after doing spiritual battle and seeing God work in a powerful way is exhilarating. However, after such powerful battles, one needs to be aware that this is a particularly likely time to be drawn into discouragement. After the initial glow wears off, exhaustion often comes, and it's wake, discouragement.
What was God's remedy for Elijah? He put his prophet to bed and fed him....twice.
Two nights ago I saw a TV special on the comprehensive effects of sleep deprivation and how widespread it is. Driving while sleep deprived is as dangerous as if one were drunk. This point was supported by statistics of how many people drive, and often die/kill, while driving half-asleep. My point is not to elaborate on the details, but only to ask this:I wonder how much emotional, physical, and spiritual problems are traceable to sleep deprivation? The bible clearly indicates that our emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being are inter-related.
If one is out of balance, it will affect the other two. For example, if we are chronically sleep deprived then it will weaken us not only physically, but also emotionally and spiritually. They are inextricably connected.
While the TV special focused on the physical and emotional effects of lack of sleep, there are spiritual effects as well.
Have you noticed how demonic oppression often hinders people from getting enough sleep? Only one night of bad sleep can make many of us have a very difficult day. Think of what chronic insomnia can do to a persons psyche? Irritability, impatience, depression, joylessness (resulting in unkind comments) are not only poor advertisements for Christianity, but they can also weaken one's defenses against the Evil One. Sleep is not a waste of time. It enables us to make the best use of time. We are a body/soul composite, and the Lord wants us to take care of both.
If meditation is crucial to spiritual maturity, then proper sleep is as well. Some of us have this notion that it is noble to try to function on as little sleep as possible. I went through that stage in grad school, and the results were not pleasant.
We live in an era of unprecedented sleep deprivation, especially teenagers.So much stimuli from so many sources make us stand out from our agrarian ancestors. We live in this era by God's providence, but we are the ones who decide how late we stay up. Parents of young children, sleep apnea, and shift workers (there are others) often cannot avoid losing sleep. Some of you stay desperately fatigued and my heart goes out to you. My first step to overcoming this plight was simply becoming aware of how I had accepted it as normal. It is neither normal nor healthy.
Some may need behavioral insight or others medication, or both, but we need to make it a priority to get a good night's sleep. Not only does it enhance our physical immune system, but also our spiritual immune system. Abiding in Christ and displaying the fruit of the Spirit are hindered by fatigue. Our adversary knows our weaknesses and will attack.
Some suggestions--get more exercise, no caffeine before sleep, make your bedroom dark and quiet, go to bed and get up at the same time if possible, do not habitually try to "make up sleep" over the weekend. Some of you may need to be checked for sleep apnea. For chronic insomnia one may need to talk to their doctor and get a prescription (if the above are not sufficient)...at least for a while.
An increasing number of people are dying as a result of fatigue caused car crashes. It has also been shown that proper sleep can ward of cancer (as the whole immune system is enhanced).
God wants us to glorify and enjoy Him moment by moment, and a good nights sleep can help immensely.
If you have any further insight on this issue, please share it with us...thank you!
Mark Hunnemann is the author of Seeing Ghosts Through God's Eyes: A Worldview Analysis of Earthbound Spirits. It's also available in eBook format.