May 25th, 2024

By the Way: Sleep tight

By Rev. Shane Hein on May 4, 2024.

8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

Psalm 4:8 [ESV]

Everyone worries to a certain degree. Worrying is just part of our instinctive reaction to our fear of the unknown future. The future is both the most exciting and the most terrifying of the three tenses precisely because it is unknown. We know the past, we live in the present, but the future will forever remain in speculation land, which is why we worry.

To worry is natural, so we need not worry too much about worrying. Worry does become a problem, though, when it begins to rob us of our joy, when it keeps us up night after night with no end in sight, and when it threatens to become full-blown anxiety. All of us are going to have the occasional sleepless night, to be sure. But when that becomes the norm, we put ourselves at serious risk of developing all kinds of emotional, spiritual, and even physical issues.

This Psalm does not solve our problems, or give us a clear vision of the future, but it does provide us with hope. It gives us the promise that, no matter what the future holds for us, the Lord will provide us with what we need to see us through.

Many of you may have heard of the “Serenity Prayer,” since it has become an internet meme of sorts these days. It was written way back in the 1930s by a Lutheran Theologian named Reinhold Niebuhr:

“Oh, God, give us the courage to change what must be altered, serenity to accept what cannot be helped, and insight to know the one from the other.”

The reason that this brilliantly worded prayer has stood the test of time, and has become an internet meme, is that it perfectly captures the essence of what the Psalmist is trying to communicate to the faithful. The Serenity Prayer doesn’t ask God to solve our problems for us, nor are we given such a promise in the Psalm. The Serenity Prayer simply puts into perspective life as it is while asking God for exactly what the Psalm does promise: peace for our hearts and souls so that we can lie down and sleep.


Rev. Shane Hein is pastor at St. Peter Lutheran Church

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