At 5:30am my alarm clock goes off with an annoyingbee bee bee beep… bee bee bee beep.
I fumble around in the dark trying to turn my alarm off and my bedside lamp on. Another day has begun, whether I like it or not. It feels much too early, and once again, I haven’t had the greatest sleep. Still, I have to work today, and people are counting on me to get stuff done.
So, yeah, my sleep hasn’t been great lately. I don’t know why. For some reason I keep waking up at 3:30am, 4:30am. Don’t know whether it’s the noise of someone taking an early morning ride in the elevator in my building or if it’s someone heading off to or returning from shift work. Maybe it’s just me thinking too much about life’s challenges a little too early in the morning.
I decide I must study rest. On my morning commute on the bus, I open my Bible to Psalm 3.* I have already underlined verse 5, “I lay down and slept; I awoke for the Lord sustains me.” I’ve read this verse many times before, but today something different jumps out at me. I read the full passage while the world around me is still waking up.
I see how David begins this psalm.
“O Lord, how my adversaries have increased! Many are rising up against me. Many are saying of my soul, ‘There is no deliverance for him in God.’ Selah” (Ps. 3:1-2).
Clearly, David is not in the most tranquil environment. He begins this psalm with a complaint: “Hey God, I’ve got a bunch of enemies surrounding me, and some people don’t even think there’s any hope.”
Houston, or in this case, Heaven : we have a problem.
But David doesn’t get hung up on his problem. Instead, he remembers who God is. Verse 3 reads, “But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the One who lifts my head.” David acknowledges who God is as his protector, and recognizes that He is above the situation.
He steps back for a minute.
"I was crying to the Lord with my voice, and He answered me from His holy mountain. Selah" (Ps. 3:4). There seem to be two parts to this verse. First, David is crying out to the Lord. The use of the past progressive tense "was crying" indicates (at least in the English translation) that this crying could have gone on for a little while. Maybe David was giving the Lord a play-by-play of the nastiness that was going on in his life. Evidently, he had something to get off his chest.
Wait a minute. David actively cries out and the Lord ANSWERS him! Chances are slim (ok, zero probability) that David’s answer to prayer came through the Goodyear Blimp flying through the sky with a sign attached as follows: "I've got it, David -- God," but however the Lord answers him, here's the kicker, and the piece that jumps out at me in spite of my sleepiness. After David pours out his cares to the Lord and the Lord hears him we seen in verse 5 that David is able to sleep: "I lay down and slept; I awoke for the Lord sustains me."
In the midst of his trouble, and after recognizing who God is, and after casting his care on the Lord, David is able to lie down and sleep. Eight hours at last!
Sweet! Problem eliminated.
Oh, darn. Not quite so fast. I look at the next verse, "I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me round about" (Ps 3:6). It seems that David’s enemies are still on the offensive. However, I see that the problem may not have changed, but David's attitude towards the problem has. As he is able to magnify God above his issues and see the people surrounding him through the lens of a God who is his protector, his problems seem much smaller, and he is able to let go of his fear. Then he can lie down and sleep.
Yet, just when we think David has perfect trust in Lord, he cries out again, “Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God!“ (Ps. 3:7). However, this is a hopeful, expectant cry with remembrance of what God has already done for him. Verse 7 continues, “For you have smitten all my enemies on the cheek; You have shattered the teeth of the wicked.” David recollects how his great and powerful God has already dealt with his enemies.
At the end of this psalm, David concludes once again that only God can save him. Verse 8 begins, “Salvation belongs to the Lord.” What does this seemingly simple statement mean? Salvation belongs to the Lord means that only God can save.
God owns salvation.
In David’s case, and in the context of this psalm, no one else but God can save and deliver David.
Our psalmist concludes, “Your blessing be upon Your people! Selah” (Ps. 3:7). In spite of his own difficulties, David remembers to ask for blessing on God’s people.
Psalm 3 challenges me to remember to fix my eyes on the Lord in spite of my problems. I need to magnify the Lord, so my problems are put in their place. I need to see the small stuff as small stuff, because to God, it’s all small stuff.
So, has my sleep improved significantly since I’ve had this revelation about magnifying God above my problems? I wish I could answer that question in the affirmative, but I’m still waiting for my breakthrough, still hoping, praying and believing. Just as in David’s situation, my outward circumstances haven’t yet changed. Yet, I’m doing my best to follow David’s lead and am choosing to remember how great my God is and also to remember to pray for those around me. As I see my Saviour as bigger than my problems, my problems look smaller, and I am filled with greater hope and peace. I recognize God alone can bring me through life’s challenges. There is no promise of a life without trouble, but the Lord has already brought me through other trials, and I know He will continue to be faithful.
*Note: Scripture references are taken from the New American Standard Version of the Bible.
A native of Vancouver Island (aka "the Big Island"), Jill now makes her home in Vancouver, British Columbia where she enjoys baking for colleagues and friends, going for extended walks, playing music, or gazing at the beautiful local mountains. Jill also loves meeting people from other countries and greeting them in their native tongue with the limited phrases from other languages she knows. A reluctant adult ballet drop-out, Jill still sometimes enjoys dancing like nobody's watching... because they usually aren't!