“In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8
I’m generally an anxious person. You might not know it looking at me, but I’ve struggled with anxiety basically my whole life. I’m all up in my head, I have crazy thoughts, I’m a doubter, I’m a worrier…I’m a bottle of emotions.
One of the things I’ve always struggled with is sleep. Nighttime is when my anxiety hits. All of the stresses from the day that have been piling up are finally able to come crashing down, and my brain starts to freak out. Needless to say, it’s not very compatible with sleep.
I came across this verse around the time Shook was born, and I was immediately drawn to it. I wanted this for my son. I wanted him to know peaceful sleep, to be able to rest easy.
The thing I love about this verse is the reason behind the Psalmist’s peaceful sleep. It’s something I struggle with constantly, and probably one of the main reasons I am so anxious is that I have a hard time believing it. But I do everything in my power to believe this truth. That “You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”
Before I became a mother, I worried about safety. I’ve always had this irrational fear of catastrophes, particularly as it relates to my family. I remember when my parents would go out of town when I was little, imagining all sorts of scenarios where they didn’t make it back because something terrible happened to them. I was maybe a little bit crazy.
When I became a mother, oh gosh did those fears multiply. I don’t think I’ve made it through a whole day since I found out I was pregnant without fearing for my children’s lives. It’s a constant battle for me.
What I’ve had to remind myself continually is that no matter how much I worry, no matter how many times I check on my children while they are sleeping (we all do it), no matter how tight I buckle that car seat, none of it is truly in my control. I am not the keeper of my children’s souls, the protector of their lives. It is impossible for me to keep them from pain, from suffering, even from death.
What a terrifying reality.
Unless God is in control. Unless He is in charge of my children’s lives. Unless He is the one who protects them, who makes them dwell in safety. How much better, in fact, for Him to be in control than me? I am so limited in my abilities to keep my children safe. God is not. He is not only in control of my children’s lives; He is in control of everything that happens in the world. And He is good. He is loving. He is powerful and mighty to save.
So how can I give my children the gift of peaceful sleep? By teaching them, and by believing in my own heart, that “You, alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” I want to instill in my children the belief, the knowledge, that God is with them.
As the ever-quoted Psalm reminds us,
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23)