Sleepless Nights

How to Solve Sleepless Nights and Unexpected Sorrows

So what’s been keeping you up at night? Sleepless nights . . . we’ve all been there: lying awake for hours, tossing and turning, tangled in our sheets as our thoughts and emotions twist up into tight knots.

We try to self-medicate, but . . .

  • Drinking
  • Eating
  • Smoking
  • Whatever-ing

Doesn’t keep us from restless worry.

When God’s Ways Don’t Make Sense

During our worry-induced insomnia, the talking-to-God thing can leave us far more irritated than inspired; after all, He could have stopped this thing that’s plaguing us. Why didn’t He stop . . .

  • Your spouse’s affair
  • Your assault, rape, violation
  • Your friend’s betrayal
  • Your child from being physically or sexually assaulted
  • The unfair labels slapped on you by folks at church
  • Your spouse from abusing you
  • The drunk driver who killed your loved one, yet walked away without a scratch
  • The person who successfully sues and slanders you, when you are innocent

The shattering, unexpected circumstances we may face can make or break us . . . literally.

I will never forget my worst sleepless night. I was wallowing in suffocating, strangling anguish because earlier that day I’d learned that my son with disabilities had been repeatedly and mercilessly assaulted and sexually abused.

I had vowed this would never happen to my son. But the worst had happened.

Suddenly Slammed

All of us have endured something unexpected and painful. When we get suddenly slammed, we may go through terrifying emotions—hate, anger, disgust, terror.

I’ll just say, talking about these raw emotions at church will sometimes elicit raised eyebrows from some church members. Reason being, lots of Christians find it difficult to accept and understand when a fellow Christian reveals his or her raw emotions.

Some Christians tend to “super-spiritualize,” judge, misquote Scripture, offer blame or shame, or try to fix the problem instead of walking with them with grace through the process of healing.

Jesus: Our Greatest Hope

Well, I’m here to tell you that healing is possible. It’s hard. It takes time. It will be a struggle. But you can heal through the power of Jesus—the Man of Sorrows, acquainted with grief. Jesus, who asks us to come to Him when we are weary and heavy-laden, promises to provide rest for the weary.

For me, it’s a choice I must make over and over and over because I’m bent toward bitterness. I want revenge and vigilante justice—both of which Christ tells us is His job, not mine.

Somedays that’s easier to accept than others. If you struggle with that, I welcome you to the process of transformation. Come along with me . . . we’ll walk this together.

Walking Together
(Image from Pixabay)

Believe Me: I Know These Can Help

For the wounded:

  1. Examine what beliefs, rights, or values have been violated. For me, my desire to protect my child was violated, as well as my family’s privacy. I had always believed that I had the “right” to justice. Not so!
  2. Truth be told, I believed and put my hope and trust in the legal system and doctors. The truth is that every human-made organization is flawed because we are flawed people. Only God is all just, and He promises He will have the final say, not us. Scripture says our hope must be in Jesus Christ, the promise of His sovereignty, His justice, and His gift of eternal life. I couldn’t find promises that said, as a Christian, I was entitled to safety and security, privacy and protection. What I did find is that my choice to trust in Jesus Christ means God will always be present in my pain (Psalm 34:18–19), that our suffering is not wasted, and our God has a good plan even though it may not be revealed right now.
  3. Pray honestly. You won’t surprise God. He knows, so let it out. Practice unburdening your troubles through prayer. Pray Psalm 4. If you can’t find words to pray, pray Psalm 77.
  4. Find strategic ways to deal with negative emotions. Seek an excellent therapist for trauma therapy, exercise, hit a punching bag, scream into a pillow, cry your eyes out, tell God everything you are feeling.
  5. Establish a plan for events that trigger your pain. Have someone to call, a place to go that is safe, a journal, or an outlet that calms you when emotions are fired up.
  6. NEVER stuff your feelings, expecting them to go away. Develop coping mechanisms that build resiliency and strength, as God will use you to help others in time.
  7. The hardest of all . . . forgive. Let go of the enemy of your story. Surrender your rights to the One who gave up all the rights of heaven, died on earth, and rose again so we may have eternal life. Allow forgiveness to be a teacher, not a cure-all. Forgiving does not mean forgetting, that all is well, that nothing happened, that the offender is off the hook. Forgiveness means we learn to live as Christ . . . humbly surrendered to the path God allows us to walk.

For those who come alongside the wounded:

  1. Learn to persist in uncomfortable situations. Not everyone will respond to wounds exactly like you would; sometimes that is uncomfortable. So ask the Lord to guide you through the discomfort.
  2. Listen, show up, say little. Never tell someone who is struggling how he or she ought to respond to his or her situation. Listen and reply empathetically.
  3. Don’t blame the wounded person’s level of faith. Don’t assume this person is struggling because of sin. Don’t misquote Scripture to him or her to make yourself feel better. Remember Job. Remember Jesus. We live in a fallen world, not in a world of karma. You come alongside this person to care, not to fix.
  4. Allow the hurt person to vent. Don’t judge him or her. Give him or her space to quicken the healing process.
  5. Provide services—meals, groceries, house cleaning, lawn mowing, playtime with kids. Showing up in these ways means more than you can know.

Let Me Hear from You

I want you to know you matter; your pain matters. Your life is in process, and that matters. Jesus and a loving community can help ease your burdens and give you the rest you long for.

If you are in the pit, please reach out, and I will listen. If you wonder how to help someone or your church needs guidance to help the hurting, Insight for Living Ministries has countless resources on our Web site.

So what’s keeping you up at night? Let’s walk this road together.

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