What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know you’re near?
I’ve heard this lyric hundreds of times. But honestly, the other day, it just struck me in a different way. How many of you have had a sleepless night? I’ll have sleepless nights due to my blood sugars going crazy. I’ll also have them when my mind is racing. But, hearing this lyric the other day, my mind transported me back to when I was right in the middle of “a thousand sleepless nights.”
You can probably guess when I was experiencing this. It was after my MS diagnosis, and boy did I ever have sleepless nights. And even when I did sleep, I had nightmares. And I was transported back there and then was almost brought to tears after remembering how those sleepless nights eventually led to a complete surrender to God because I just couldn’t fight anymore. But it really did take me all those sleepless nights to finally feel that Jesus was near to me. I eventually realized that I was the one pushing God away. I was the one letting my worry overshadow my confidence in God. I couldn’t fathom how an MS diagnosis after a life with type 1 diabetes was a part of His plan. It took me quite a while to even share that pain.
I rarely have sleepless nights like I had during that time (maybe because grad school wears me out haha). But sometimes those intrusive thoughts I had during those sleepless nights come back to haunt me, and sleep gets a little farther away.
They remind me of my inadequacy.
They remind me that I failed to get my blood sugars right that day…again.
They remind me why I’m so tired at the end of the day.
They remind me how lonely chronic illness is.
They remind me that depression is pretty common with chronic illnesses.
Worst of all, they remind me that I have a lifetime of this ahead of me with no break.
And I have to fight those thoughts off: “Please not tonight. Not now.” But those thoughts, when they come, also remind me to stay grounded. Jesus showed me how much bigger He is than those overwhelming thoughts after I finally relinquished my pain to Him. It’s easy for those painful thoughts to surface. But now, I can turn it around. I can remember how those thoughts almost destroyed me, but brought me so near to Jesus’ peace and rescue when I finally let Him in. And then, sleep eventually comes.
I’m reminded that perfection is unattainable. (Romans 3:23)
I’m reminded that I will have another opportunity to try tomorrow; there’s always hope for tomorrow. (Romans 5:3-5)
I’m reminded that Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
I’m reminded that Jesus has never left me alone, and He never will. (Deuteronomy 31:6-8)
I’m reminded to find joy in my trials. (James 1:2-4)
I’m reminded that Jesus can use these difficult experiences in my life to help me connect to and relate to others for a lifetime. He already has. (1 Peter 4:10)
It’s funny how, when you experience Jesus, all the negative thoughts transform into something beautiful and useful. I don’t know what kind of thoughts keep you up at night. I don’t know what kind of experiences you have in your past. I don’t know your state of healing (or hardship) that you’re in right now. But I’m just here to encourage you. Sometimes it takes a thousand sleepless nights of struggle to finally feel the peace of God. Sometimes it takes a great loss. Sometimes it takes your relinquishment of control. One of my favorite quotes from Margaret Thatcher is: “You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.” The difference between now and then, however, is the fact that I’m letting God be on my side and fight for/with me. Those negative thoughts still come around on occasion, but instead of trying to fight them off on my own, I’m contradicting them with Jesus’ truth and peace. And that, my friends, is the best way to fight. You should probably give it a try.
“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”