Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sleepless Nights

Sleepless Nights
July 1, 2013
Acts 12:6  "The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance."

Everyone has had a sleepless, anxious filled night.  You know what I'm talking about.  It's when your anxiety about a certain subject matter overwhelms you to the point your whole body is fidgety.  You are unable to fall asleep because your thoughts are dwelling on an issue, possibly too big for you to handle with all of its numerous consequences.  It happened when you were a child, afraid of a thunderstorm.  It happened when you were a teenager, overwhelmed by the next day's events.  It happens now when you are overtaken with fear regarding what could happen at work.  It will happen again when you become stressed about settling things out when there are so many unknown variables in your situation.  The Apostle Peter knew this first hand, far deeper than you or I will ever understand or experience.

Peter was captured by Herod, who intended to persecute him.  Herod had just murdered one of Jesus' close friends and Peter's fellow apostle, John.  When the Bible suggested Herod was going to persecute him, it meant death.  It certainly meant torture and could have ended in crucifixion, being thrown to the lions, or a simple be-heading.  Anyway you spin the story, it was not going to be pleasant for Peter.  He was bound in shackles and tied between two soldiers.  There weren't guards, there were soldiers, ready to kill him should he try to escape or be freed by a rescuing third party.  Peter's future looked bleak.  So what did Peter do?  He fell fast asleep.  How in the world?  If I were possibly going to be tortured and murdered any moment, I could not fall asleep.  I would have a sleepless night, filled with anxiety.  We could learn a lesson or two from Peter's story.  If you read a few verses right before this story of Peter falling asleep, you'll see it is recorded that the saints were in deep intercessory prayer on his behalf.  They were petitioning the Lord for his safety, for a favorable outcome to the situation.  I'm sure Peter was praying as well, begging for the Lord to give him strength to endure what was before him.

If you keep reading in your Bible, the Apostle Paul explains later what happens in these type of situations.  Paul writes, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  Paul instructs us to cast off our anxiety and perform an action.  We are to pray, be thankful, and ask the Lord for help.  If we do this, there comes a benefit, regardless of the answer to the prayer.  The benefit is the peace that transcends all understanding.  This peace doesn't make sense to the outside world.  It is not logical.  If anyone was in a similar situation to Peter's, it is generally understand that you'd have a right to feel anxious.  Every human would feel anxiety, unless the peace, the kind that doesn't make sense, is protecting your thought-life.  Peter had that peace, the kind that protected his human mind and allowed him slumber.  Logically, he should have had an anxious and sleepless night, but the illogical peace shielded him, allowing him to not worry about tomorrow's events.

You are worried right now, slightly anxious about tomorrow or what lies ahead in the coming months.  I am too.  I'm jealous of Peter's friends, those who were interceding for his safety on his behalf.  You and I need that kind of prayer.  We are to pray for others like this and we are to pray for our personal situations like this.  We are to pray so intensely and deeply that illogical peace allows us slumber though we face a possible be-heading.  But we don't do this.  We don't pray for our own situations like this and we certainly don't pray for others this intensely.  Wouldn't it be great to chuckle in the face of our daunting circumstances, being fearless of the consequences knowing the Lord has it all under control and in His hands?  That can only happen through intense prayer.  Your prayer has to be as intense as the current level of anxiety you feel.  It is the only way you will get that kind of illogical peace that allows you a full night's sleep knowing that tomorrow may include torture.  So pray.  Pray for your situation and pray for those around you. Pray for the ones who are facing overwhelming situations.  Pray the Lord gives them irrational peace, peace that doesn't make sense but allows them a full night's sleep.  Pray for your own situations as deeply and as intensely as your overwhelming anxiety.

Not only did Peter get a full night's sleep because of the Lord's peace, but the Lord sent an angel and freed Peter from the soldiers' shackles.  He walked away from the situation unscathed and fully rested.  Sleepless night or restful success?  You choose.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Daniel 6, Acts 12 & 16, Phil 4:6-7

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